ACLU chapters focusing on hot-button issues

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — American Civil Liberties Union officials say they have begun a new and more aggressive effort to intervene in Missouri and Kansas over highly public issues like same-sex marriage, privacy and police policy.

The ACLU’s Missouri chapter has been actively involved in the protests in Ferguson over Michael Brown’s shooting death by a Ferguson police officer. It has sued on behalf of a reporter arrested during a protest and argued for protections for street demonstrators.

In Kansas, the state’s chapter has helped lead the legal battle over same-sex marriage ban, The Kansas City Star ( ) reported.

Critics say the nonprofit is straying from its initial mission of protecting civil liberties to promote a more liberal agenda involving abortion rights, immigrants and legalized marijuana.

“The ACLU grates on a lot of people because they claim to be neutral when, in fact, they’re not,” Kansas City attorney Eddie Greim said. “They’re choosing a side.”

But Jeffrey Mittman, the ACLU’s executive director in Missouri, said the group has worked closely with conservatives before. He noted the group worked with the Republican Party to pass a Missouri constitutional amendment protecting electronic communications from unreasonable searches. However, he also acknowledges, that the public doesn’t always see the ACLU as nonpartisan.

“We do have a job to educate people,” Mittman said. “Don’t think in terms of red and blue. Don’t think in terms of left and right. Think in terms of the Constitution.”



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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