American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia
The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV) is a non-partisan, non-profit membership organization whose mission is to assure that the Bill of Rights and the rights guaranteed by the West Virginia Constitution are preserved for each new generation. The ACLU-WV accomplishes these goals through legislative advocacy, litigation, grassroots organizing and public education on a broad array of issues affecting our liberties. The ACLU-WV is one of 53 affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union nationwide.
In every era of American history, the government has tried to expand its authority at the expense of individual rights. The ACLU-WV exists to make sure that doesn't happen, and fight back when it does. The ACLU-WV is devoted exclusively to protecting the basic civil liberties of all in the state of West Virginia, and extending them to groups that have traditionally been denied them. In its more than five decades of existence, the ACLU-WV has become widely recognized as the state's foremost advocate of individual rights.
The American Civil Liberties Union has had a presence in West Virginia since 1920, its first year as an organization, when miners were attempting to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining with coal mine owners and operators. The state tried to thwart that initiative by jailing the miners and any other sympathizers, and the ACLU sent lawyers to West Virginia to represent them. In 1943, at the height of nationalism during World War II, the ACLU represented several West Virginia school children in the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent the school board from requiring them to dispute the teachings of their church by pledging allegiance to the American flag. We won in both those instances and in many others.
Today the ACLU-WV confronts both traditional and new threats to civil liberties on many fronts. Advanced technologies presage new systems that have the capacity to either diminish or expand rights. Meanwhile, our society's most intractable problems remain age-old ones: racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious intolerance. During periods of national crisis and war, First Amendment rights, privacy and due process are typically among the first casualties. The ACLU-WV's mission remains realizing the promise of the Bill of Rights for all and expanding the reach of its guarantees to new areas.