The New York Civil Liberties Union’s 60th anniversary is both a milestone and a marker in our ongoing commitment to preserve and protect our democracy. Since its founding in 1951, the NYCLU has helped shape our society and made a difference in people’s lives.

Over the past 60 years the NYCLU has:

  • Contested the witch hunts and loyalty oaths of the McCarthy era and protected the right to protest
  • Stopped school censorship and ended forced prayer in the public schools
  • Challenged the constitutionality of the Vietnam War and fought for the right to publish the Pentagon Papers
  • Fought for legal abortion three years before Roe v. Wade and for HIV/AIDs and sex education in schools
  • Won reforms in New York’s draconian Rockefeller drug laws
  • Revealed racial disparities in the NYPD’s massive stop-and-frisk program targeting innocent New Yorkers
  • Exposed and challenged government abuse, including warrantless surveillance and torture at Guantanamo.

And we continue to change lives. In 2011, the NYCLU played a major role in momentous human rights victories:

  • The passage of the Marriage Equality Act, guaranteeing same-sex couples the freedom to marry in New York State
  • The order by NYPD’s top brass halting certain types of low-level marijuana arrests
  • The suspension of New York State’s participation in Secure Communities, a federal deportation program that tears families apart and encourages racial profiling
  • The guarantee of the rights of immigrant children to enroll in public school, ensured in Department of Justice guidelines, regardless of their status.