Law & the Courts

ACLU Shifts Mission Toward Advancing ‘Racial Justice’ Policies, Including Reparations

Activist groups including the ACLU hold a rally in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., January 27, 2018. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

The American Civil Liberties Union is set to announce Monday that it is shifting toward advocating for an aggressive racial justice agenda, including a push for reparations, according to a new report.

The group, which has traditionally worked to defend free speech, will pursue a “Systemic Equality agenda” that includes a demand to pass legislation sponsored by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas) that would fund a commission to study proposals on reparations for African Americans, according to Axios.

The 101-year-old nonprofit is pledging to invest up to $40 million to expand its staffing in the South to “fight systemic racism in the former Confederacy,” the report says.

“We can begin to unlock the potential that is in some of these states, and begin to create the political environment that is much more conducive for racial justice and civil rights and civil liberties. You can change the national map,” said Anthony D. Romero, who has served as ACLU’s executive director for 20 years.

The group will also support initiatives for more voting rights protections, increased broadband access, student loan forgiveness, and new housing policies to combat racial segregation. It will push for post offices in rural areas with no banks to offer check cashing, money transfers and bill payment services.

The move comes after a year of racial reckoning in the U.S. sparked by the death of George Floyd in May and as the ACLU’s national board this month elected its first black female president, civil rights attorney Deborah Archer.

Archer has said the ACLU will sue the Biden administration to pursue its racial equity agenda, if necessary.

“President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris made a lot of promises and commitments around racial justice, challenging systemic racial inequality,” she said. “And now it’s time for the ACLU to be a part of the effort to hold them accountable for those promises.”

The ACLU was founded to defend liberal values. It pursued this agenda by defending the right of all groups, including hateful organizations such as the National Socialist Party of America, to assemble and speak freely.

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