December 2011

Bill of Rights Day

The first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution, which became known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified on December 15, 1791. These amendments were designed to limit the government’s ability to infringe on individual liberty. Today’s celebration will mark their 220th anniversary.

Collectively, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights trumpet our aspirations for the kind of society that we want to be. For much of our history, our nation failed to fulfill the promise of liberty for all people living in the U.S. We have learned that the Bill of Rights is not self-fulfilling. As a result, the American Civil Liberties Union was founded to work to ensure the promise of the Bill of Rights is made real.

In a sense, every day at the ACLU is a tribute to the Bill of Rights. For over ninety years, the ACLU has worked daily in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Bill of Rights guarantees. Here in Oregon, our work in 2011 included standing up for free speech and free exercise of religion; privacy; fair treatment whenever the loss of liberty is at stake; and protection against discrimination.

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