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Understanding Civil Liberties (2010)


The purpose of this booklet is to answer some of the perplexing questions people ask about their constitutional rights and how these rights apply to their daily lives. Some people assume that anything unfair is also unconstitutional, or that every wrong, particularly a serious wrong, violates a constitutional right. Some feel that the Constitution itself, by assuring the rights of unpopular, even hateful, people, sometimes grants too much freedom. We all believe in individual liberties in principle. We believe that each of us should enjoy freedom of speech and religion, that the accused should have a fair trial, that one’s personal beliefs are nobody else’s business, that discrimination on the basis of race or sex is bad and that we have the right to be let alone, the right of privacy. It’s only when we start applying those principles to everyday life – when my rights bump into your rights – that we run into trouble. Remember, constitutional rights are not self-enforcing. You must speak up, complain, if necessary go to court, to assert your rights. Since the ACLU often represents unpopular individuals with controversial views, it is often mistakenly identified with those views. But the ACLU promotes no partisan beliefs, other than the belief in fairness for all.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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Civil Liberties Union