ACLU-TN, the state affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union, is a private, non-partisan public interest organization. ACLU-TN is comprised of two separate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Tennessee.
ACLU-TN’s mission is to translate the guarantees of the Bill of Rights into reality for all Tennesseans. ACLU-TN defends and advances civil liberties and civil rights through advocacy, coalition-building, community engagement and mobilization, litigation, legislative lobbying, policy initiatives, and public education.
ACLU has been a leader in moving fairness and freedom forward in Tennessee for nearly a century. In 1925, ACLU represented public high school teacher John Scopes when he was arrested for teaching evolution in a science classroom in Dayton, Tennessee. In the 1960s and 1970s, ACLU advocated for racial justice and the right to assemble, including representing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Memphis sanitation strike, and challenging police surveillance of civil rights activists in the city. During the Trump Administration, we aggressively challenged the relentless attacks on civil liberties and civil rights. Today we continue to successfully tackle cutting edge initiatives on a range of issues, including voting rights, criminal legal reform, policing, LGBTQ+ equality, fair treatment of immigrants and refugees, freedom of speech, privacy, and reproductive justice.