Let’s face it: the last few years have been exhausting. When every day brings a new headline of another rule broken, another norm shattered, another liberty attacked, another person suffering injustice, another tweet, it can become easy to lose sight of just how much we have accomplished, and just how different our country and state would be were it not for the millions of passionate, caring ACLU supporters who fight the good fight each and every day.
So with the season of giving thanks upon us and the end of the year in sight, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what we have accomplished together, both here in Indiana and nationwide.
- When the Indiana General Assembly, along with seven other states, attempted to limit access to (or downright ban) abortions this year, the ACLU stepped in. We filed lawsuits, hosted rallies, and mobilized our members to contact their elected leaders to ensure Roe stays the law of the land. Not a single one of these state bans have taken effect, and we intend to keep it that way.
- As immigrants and refugees are targeted more than ever before, the ACLU has led the way in protecting these vulnerable communities. We brought to light the horrific child separation policy, and filed a national class action on behalf of thousands of children who have been separated from their parents. We worked feverishly to reunite families, including a trip to Guatemala to identify parents whose children were being held in the U.S. Of the 381 legal actions the ACLU has taken since Trump took office, 141 are aimed at protecting immigrants’ rights, including 93 full-on lawsuits. Without the help of ACLU supporters, thousands more children would have been separated from their families.
- With more than 43,000 Hoosiers in state prison or jail, and more than 115,000 on probation or parole, our justice system is a mass incarceration machine—one that breaks apart families and communities, and costs Hoosier taxpayers more than $740 million a year. We launched our Smart Justice Blueprint to outline a path to reduce incarceration by 50% in Indiana.
- Understanding that the systematic undermining of our voting rights is a threat to our democracy’s foundation, the ACLU has expanded access to the ballot box. The ACLU of Indiana’s Yes! You Can Vote! campaign educated traditionally disenfranchised communities—previously incarcerated people, trans people, students, and people with disabilities—about their voting rights. Nationwide, we led the campaign for the historic Voting Restoration Amendment in Florida, that allows more than 1.6 million Floridians with a past felony conviction to regain the right to vote.
- And in a historic victory, we stopped the Trump-Pence administration from weaponizing the census. It was evident from the beginning that this administration’s effort to essentially conduct a door-to-door federal inquiry of individuals’ citizenship status was a blatant attempt to deter immigrants and people of color from participating, thus depriving communities of critical resources and political representation. Thanks to the ACLU’s persistence, we uncovered critical documents demonstrating that this was, indeed, the government’s goal, ensuring the U.S. Supreme Court had no choice but to agree that the rationale for the census question was illegal.
This is just a snapshot of what we have accomplished. In 2019 alone, we filed more than 20 lawsuits in Indiana, hosted dozens of public events, and spoke to countless lawmakers, public officials, and community leaders about our fundamental liberties. So, in the spirit of the season, let me say Thank You. Thank you for standing in defense of all people’s fundamental rights and liberties. Thank you for helping fund hundreds of lawsuits, forums, protests, and more. Thank you for making a difference. Thank you for being a part of the ACLU.
(And if you are reading this thinking “Did I support the ACLU this year?” take a moment to be sure by making an year-end gift here.)