Dear Friends of Civil Liberties,

The ACLU-MN has been fighting since 1952 to protect civil liberties and the Constitution from those who would weaken them.  The increase of attacks on our rights in the past year shows what a critical time we are in history.

That’s why it is such an honor and a privilege to serve as the new executive director of the ACLU-MN.  For the last 65 years, many people have worked hard to lay the groundwork for the strong, vibrant organization we have today.  Now it is up to us to live up to the expectations of the many communities we serve.

In particular, I know that much is expected of me.  And I am eager to get started.  Having practiced law in the Twin Cities for a long time, I have seen the best and the worst of our legal system.  As sincerely and diligently as people working in it have been trying, we have a long way to go to achieve the goal that Minnesota architect Cass Gilbert chiseled above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court:  Equal Justice Under Law.

From the minute the rest of the staff and I walk into our office in the morning until we turn out the lights at the end of the day, we work hard to do what you expect us to do:  Assure that our government respects and protects the rights of all people, not just some. 

Litigation is an important part of what we do.  We form partnerships with lawyers in private practice who donate their time and effort to fight for the rights of the most vulnerable members of our community.  But we do a lot more.  Our legislative team plays a key role at the Minnesota Legislature to beat back attempts to weaken our civil liberties.  We are always at the Capitol fighting for you.  And our communications and public education team is constantly offering outreach, training, and education in support of the Constitution.  That work is crucial because even well-intentioned legislators, judges, and executive agencies have a hard time doing their job if the public they serve are ill-informed.

All of this work is needed because the Constitution can’t protect itself. That’s why I am so excited to be working for all of you and the entire ACLU-MN community.  We cannot blithely go on with our daily lives in the face of xenophobia, violence, homophobia, and racism.  We must act, and we must be hopeful. 

But hope is more the consequence of action than its cause.  Being a spectator makes you fatalistic; being an agent of change makes you hopeful.  I plan to be an agent of change.  I hope you will join me.


John Gordon
Executive Director
ACLU of Minnesota

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