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It works through litigation, lobbying, and community empowerment.Founded in 1920 by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Walter Nelles, Morris Ernst, Albert De Silver, Arthur Garfield Hays, Jane Addams, Felix Frankfurter, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the ACLU has over 500,000 members and an annual budget of over 0 million.During the 1920s, the ACLU expanded its scope to include protecting the free speech rights of artists and striking workers, and working with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to decrease racism and discrimination.
During World War II, the ACLU defended Japanese-American citizens, unsuccessfully trying to prevent their forcible relocation to internment camps.
During the Cold War, the ACLU headquarters was dominated by anti-communists, but many local affiliates defended members of the Communist Party.
Most of the ACLU's cases came from the Communist party and Jehovah's Witnesses.
In 1940, the ACLU leadership was caught up in the Red Scare, and voted to exclude Communists from its leadership positions.
Local affiliates of the ACLU are active in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.The ACLU provides legal assistance in cases when it considers civil liberties to be at risk.