The ACLU of Idaho is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights.

The ACLU of Idaho is located in Boise. While we are an independent entity, we also serve as a local affiliate to the national American Civil Liberties Union. We implement legal, legislative and public education programs in conjunction with large numbers of volunteers to advance the ACLU's goals of liberty and justice for all. A statewide Board of Directors sets policy, raises funds, and provides legal and fiduciary oversight. The ACLU of Idaho is made up of 9 employees, and is supported by an expanding base of members, interns and volunteers. We believe that the freedom of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.

Mission:

The ACLU of Idaho strives to advance civil liberties and civil rights through activities that include litigation, education and lobbying. 

History:

For more than 20 years the ACLU of Idaho has been at the forefront of defending the Constitutional rights of Idahoans. As attacks come from many directions and many sources, our unceasing efforts fall into  three principal areas. One – we educate people about their rights and provide guidelines for them when they feel those rights have been violated. Two – we work with state and local lawmakers while specific legislation is being debated. (Our parent organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, is a major presence in the national defense of the Constitution.) Three – when a law is passed that abrogates individuals’ rights, we litigate to attempt to get it reversed.
 
Citizens intent on preserving peoples’ rights had been active in the state for several years, leading to the establishment in 1989 of the Idaho chapter of ACLU. Supported by the Mountain States Office, it had limited authority and duties. The following year the new organization  underwent its baptism of fire. Intense activity by out-of-state groups resulted in the introduction of more than a dozen anti-abortion bills in the state legislature in 1990.  Four of them would have prohibited abortion without exception. The ACLU of Idaho swung into vigorous action and contributed to the defeat of all of the bills except one. Renewed efforts by pro-choice advocates, including ACLU, led to a veto of the final bill by Governor Cecil Andrus.
 
These efforts attracted national attention. In 1991 ACLU National President Nadine Strossen attended the Idaho Bill of Rights Celebration. Having shown its mettle, the ACLU of Idaho became an official ACLU affiliate in 1993.
 
In the intervening years, the ACLU of Idaho has continued to grow as one of the most influential sources of Constitutional protection for all the people in our state. For example, in 2011 the ACLU filed suit against the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) alleging poor treatment of prisoners at the Idaho Department of Corrections. The suit led to an inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigations; in 2014 the state retook control of the corrections facility.
 
The attack on abortion rights has not slacked off. In 2012 the Legislature considered a bill that would have required an ultrasound examination for every woman seeking an abortion. There was no exception for rape, incest or fetal abnormalities. Once again the ACLU worked with its partners and allies to forge another victory  by preventing the bill from passing.
 
In 2014 the ACLU successfully litigated to overturn a Boise city ordinance that would have outlawed panhandling, thereby depriving many citizens of their livelihood and First Amendment rights. The rights of immigrants continue to be a focus. The ACLU has prepared "know your rights" materials for various segments of society, including prisoners,  immigrants, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) members, women, would-be voters, etc.
 
Threats to our liberties will never end – and the ACLU of Idaho will be there to fight for them and to continue advocating for the rights of all who live in Idaho. Throughout the country, local ACLU affiliates continue to be the principal Constitutional watchdogs. We will remain vigilant in working to ensure that the rights promised to all citizens will not be taken away from this or future generations.

 

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