The Role of the Local Western North Carolina Chapter
The WNC chapter of the American Civil Liberties is the local branch of the ACLU of North Carolina, representing the 18 western-most counties in North Carolina. Of the more than one million members and supporters of the ACLU nationwide, our chapter accounts for close to a thousand. Local chapters like ours work under their respective state affiliates — we work under the ACLU of North Carolina — and state affiliates work under the national ACLU.
The ACLU is our Nation’s Guardian of Liberty
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is the guardian of the liberties which set the United States apart from other nations, and as such the ACLU works daily in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the U.S. Bill of Rights.
The American system of government is founded on two counterbalancing principles: first, that the majority of the people governs, through democratically elected representatives; and second that the power of even a democratic majority must be limited in order to ensure individual rights. Those limits have been set by the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which consists of the original ten amendments ratified in 1791, plus the three post-Civil War amendments (the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth) and the Nineteenth Amendment (women’s suffrage), adopted in 1920. The mission of the ACLU is to preserve all of these protections and guarantees.
Litigation, Legislative and Public Education
Since the mission of the ACLU is to protect civil liberties, that includes not only litigation, but also legislative lobbying and public education. Maintaining contact with state legislators and providing testimony on proposed legislation is an effort of state affiliates to minimize civil liberties infringement in new laws. In NC that is one of the time-consuming responsibilities of the executive director, Jennifer Rudinger. The ACLU is better known for litigating, since that is what the media focuses on, but it’s far less costly to head off potential violations while they’re still potential–hence the time spent monitoring state legislatures.