The New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, promotes and defends the fundamental principles and values embodied in the Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution and New York State Constitution, including freedom of speech and religion, and the right to privacy, equality and due process of law. We carry out our mission through public education, advocacy and litigation.
The Central New York Office, founded in 1963, is the official voice of the NYCLU in the region. The office serves Onondaga, Madison, Oneida, Seneca, Oswego, Cortland and Cayuga counties. Our office in Syracuse receives daily requests for advice, information, referral and legal assistance. A committee of volunteer attorneys works with the office director to review and assess requests for legal assistance. Other office committees pursue projects for membership development, fundraising, outreach and public education. We are always looking for people with interests and skills that can increase the effectiveness of our board and office committees.
The American system of government is founded on two counterbalancing principles:
- First, that the majority of the people governs, through democratically elected representatives;
- Second, that the power even of a democratic majority must be limited to ensure individual rights.
Majority power is limited by the Bill of Rights, which consists of the original 10 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 Central New York Office NYCLU is to preserve all of these protections and guarantees:
- Your First Amendment rights - freedom of speech, association and assembly; freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.
- Your right to equal protection under the law - equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin.
- Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.
- Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.
We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied rights, including people of color; LGBTQ people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor.
If the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled.