Although the first few months of Obama's presidency have brought considerable change, there is still much work to be done in the area of civil liberties.
Anthony Romero, a pioneer figure in ACLU's history, believes that the economic crisis and international pressure will force Obama to put potentially divisive issues on the back burner, such as gay rights, the future of Guantanamo, and the war on terror. In this talk, Romero discusses how we must still work to promote activism in the Obama era.
Anthony D. Romero
Anthony D. Romero is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation's premier defender of liberty and individual freedom. He took the helm of the 87-year-old organization just four days before the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Shortly afterward, the ACLU launched its national Safe and Free campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis. Under Romero's leadership, the ACLU gained court victories on the Patriot Act filed landmark litigation on the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, and filed the first successful legal challenge to the Bush administration's illegal NSA spying program.
Romero, an attorney with a history of public-interest activism, has presided over the most successful membership growth in the ACLU's history and more than doubled national staff and tripled the budget of the organization since he began his tenure. This unprecedented growth has allowed the ACLU to expand its nationwide litigation, lobbying and public education efforts, including new initiatives focused on racial justice, religious freedom, privacy, reproductive freedom and lesbian and gay rights.
Executive director of the ACLU Anthony Romero criticizes President Obama for neglecting to prosecute government officials responsible for issuing the harsh interrogation techniques documented in the Bush torture memos.
Romero accuses Obama of passing the buck to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Organization founded by Roger Baldwin and others in New York City in 1920 to champion constitutional liberties in the U.S. It works for three basic concepts: freedom of expression, conscience, and association; due process of law; and equal protection under the law. From its founding it has initiated test cases and intervened in cases already in the courts. It may provide legal counsel, or it may file an amicus curiae brief. The Scopes trial was one of its test cases; it provided counsel for the Sacco-Vanzetti case. In the 1950s and '60s it opposed the blacklisting of supposed left-wing subversives and worked to guarantee freedom of worship and the rights of the accused. Its work is performed by volunteers and full-time staff, including lawyers who provide free legal counsel. See alsocivil liberty.