According to the Huffpo, the ACLU was hit hard by the Madoff scandal and has had to lay off 35 employees:
The American Civil Liberties Union, impacted by the unfolding economic crisis, laid off ten percent of its national workforce this week. Thirty-six staffers lost their jobs, including five in the Washington, D.C. legislative office, a source familiar with the firings told the Huffington Post.
A source in the ACLU’s Washington office confirmed that there had been layoffs, but couldn’t confirm the details. The ACLU has two separate Washington offices: a local branch that works on District of Columbia issues and an arm of the national ACLU, which works on legislative issues. The layoffs impacted the legislative office — though the District office is not necessarily immune to a budget shortfall.
The loss of the staffers means a likely reduction in influence for the civil liberties organization just as Democrats begin to push a legislative agenda as ambitious as any since the mid-sixties. Liberal advocacy organizations have been hit hard across the board by the economic downturn, as donations have fallen off and returns from investments have gone negative.
If you are able, now is as good a time as any to donate to them. I’m in for another fifty bucks.
And for the record, another thing I have never, ever, ever understood is the right-wing antipathy to the ACLU, which as far as I can tell, will stridently defend everyone’s rights, regardless of their political affiliation. Ask Larry Craig. Ask Jerry Falwell. Ask Rush Limbaugh. When we wanted to teach the Japanese about Democracy, who did Douglas McArthur send? You got it. Roger Baldwin, founder of the ACLU.
On inauguration day, Orin Kerr had a pretty snarky post that really made me laugh (particularly because it is something I said over and over again the past few years to my Republican friends– “Sure, you like this now. But do you want President Hillary Clinton to be able to do this?”) :
Just A Reminder, for the folks who thought that President Bush had the power to arrest anyone in the United States and detain them as “enemy combatants” without any hearing as part of his Commander-in-Chief power, that this power is now enjoyed by Barack Hussein Obama. That’s right: A liberal with the middle name “Hussein” who pals around with terrorists and is adored in Paris now has all that Commander-in-Chief power. And if he decides that you’re a threat to the nation, he can order you seized and locked up indefinitely. Congress can’t get in B. Hussein Obama’s way: As the FISA Court of Review emphasized back in 2002, Congress “could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power.” And that meddling Supreme Court can’t stop “The One,” either. Or at least that’s your view of things.
Of course, late conversions into believers of checks and balances are more than welcome.
You know who would be fighting for those people? The ACLU. Without hesitation. There simply isn’t a more American institution out there, and I do not understand why it is so hated by the right. Go give.