The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) covers a broad range of legal issues. The School Without Walls ACLU Club helps make students aware of these issues and provide options for combating them. The ACLU advocates in court against discriminatory laws—implicit or explicit—and strives to achieve equality under the law.
Homelessness is just one issue the ACLU is spreading more awareness on. Currently, there are 553,472 people experiencing homelessness in the United States of America and 5,111 in Washington, D.C. Homelessness disproportionately affects minority communities because of phenomena like gentrification. Our city has the highest intensity of gentrification, which has increased the number of families without a roof over their heads.
The ACLU has especially been advocating for the decriminalization of homelessness. In Jones v. City of Los Angeles, the ACLU fought the Los Angeles city code that allowed police to arrest people for sleeping on streets. This was a monumental and crucial victory for the ACLU in the fight against the criminalization of homelessness.
The SWW ACLU Club and SWW community can help by supporting organizations such as DC Coalition for the Homeless, DC Homelessness Center, SMYAL, Central Union Mission DC, and Thrive DC.
Abortion rights is another issue the ACLU is fighting for. Half a century ago, Roe v. Wade was a landmark Supreme Court case that ruled that the Constitution protected a woman’s right to an abortion. However, now it seems that the Supreme Court is backtracking on their initial decision because it has agreed to hear a new case that would allow Mississippi to ban abortions after 15 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, 20 states will immediately make abortion illegal. The ACLU is on the frontlines in courtrooms across the country to stop these extreme attacks on women's health.
One of the most important current issues in our country is voting rights. Voting rights are in danger because of gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the process of redrawing district lines to benefit one party, leading them to get more representatives in Congress. Since the census has been completed, state legislatures will begin to redraw their congressional districts. While this should not affect a specific racial group because racial gerrymandering is unconstitutional, without federal oversight, anything could happen. Gerrymandering in practice mainly affects Blue/Democratic areas. This means that the ACLU will be involved in court cases surrounding district lines and their constitutionality to preserve people's voting rights. Currently, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which the ACLU is in support of, has reached Congress. If passed, it would reestablish the pre-clearances from the 1965 voting rights act and improve the voting rights of many. However, this bill is currently being filibustered in the Senate.
Many of these issues are common within our community and affect those around us. As Walls students, we have the responsibility to advocate that all people deserve to have American and human rights.
Our club focuses on discussing the work of the ACLU and addressing national and state issues. Our hope is to inform fellow students and spread awareness about ongoing issues that, without doubt, will have an effect on our lives forever.