Known for defending constitutional rights, the American Civil Liberties Union has recently become synonymous with political activism. This year, membership more than doubled to 1.2 million people and the weekend of Trump’s first proposed travel ban, the ACLU raked in $32 million — eight times the unsolicited donations it usually collects in a year.
The ACLU rejects the idea that they are a partisan institution, positioning themselves as protectors of constitutional rights without a political agenda. Leaders in the organization attribute their sudden political relevance to the unconstitutional policies of Donald Trump, but they’ll champion either side. In fact, the group, which often opposes actions of the political left, previously defended Neo-Nazi’s rights to march through a town full of Holocaust survivors.
“We work with and fight both Democrats and Republicans of any stripe. When they agree with us we work with them. When they lock horns with us we take them down,” Anthony Romero, the Executive Director of the ACLU told VICE News.
VICE News’ Evan McMorris-Santoro follows the ACLU’s new Political Director, Faiz Shakir, as he hosts a town hall on resistance training. “After the election of Donald Trump I felt like people voted again with their pocket books and with their email addresses, to tell the ACLU tag you’re it, you’re the leader of the opposition, you’re the leader of the resistance,” Shakir told VICE News.
This segment originally aired March 30, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.