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American Civil Liberties Union of Washington
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington,
or ACLU, is a non-governmental organization (NGO) whose stated
goal is to "defend and preserve the individual rights and
liberties guaranteed to every person ... by the Constitution
and laws of the United States." Lawsuits brought by the
ACLU have been influential in several important developments
in U.S. constitutional law, and it has over 400,000 members
as of 2005. The ACLU provides lawyers and legal expertise in
cases where it believes an individual's or group of individuals'
rights are being violated by the government. In many cases where
it does not provide legal representation, the ACLU submits amicus
curiae briefs in support of its positions. The ACLU has never
officially supported or opposed a political candidate, and is
not aligned with any political party, though it has been harshly
critical of various elected officials of both major parties
over the years. The ACLU is one of the most influential NGOs
in the United States today; often controversial, its stances
have engendered criticism from both sides of the political spectrum.
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