The organization that brought a lawsuit against the City of Brazil, forcing it to repair sidewalks not in compliance with federal laws, is changing its name.
On Jan. 1, the Indiana Civil Liberties Union changed its name to ACLU of Indiana.
The move is expected to better identify the organization with its longtime role as the Indiana affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The 5,000 members of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union have always fought illegal attempts to restrict Hoosiers' free speech, voting rights and rights to privacy," said ICLU Executive Director Fran Quigley. "Our new name will show that Indiana members also are key supporters of the ACLU's national-level efforts to fix the Patriot Act, protect women's rights and call into account those responsible for the shameful practices of torture."
The Indiana name change was hailed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"For more than 50 years, we at the ACLU have been proud to claim the Indiana Civil Liberties Union as our Hoosier representatives in the fight to defend our precious freedoms," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "We are thrilled that the name 'ACLU of Indiana' will now make it clear that we are all part of one national effort to defend the Bill of Rights."
The ICLU has an illustrious history of supporting the Constitution, Quigley said.
"Among hundreds of high-impact cases and campaigns, the ICLU successfully fought for free association rights during the McCarthy era, the right to protest during the Vietnam War, the rights of homeless to fair treatment, and a landmark U.S. Supreme Court victory in 2000 in the case of City of Indianapolis vs. Edmonds, striking down unconstitutional police roadblocks," Quigley said. "Today, we continue to fight for Hoosiers' rights, including the privacy of medical records, religious freedom and the right to vote.
"Beyond our important legal advocacy, our staff and volunteers also travel Indiana from the Statehouse to the schoolhouse providing public education about the need to protect the Constitution."
Defending rights has caused controversy for the ICLU ever since its birth. The organization was founded in 1953, but was immediately banned from meeting at the Indiana World War Memorial because of McCarthy-era allegations of the ACLU's lack of patriotism. The stormy founding of the ICLU was newsworthy enough to be chronicled by Edward R. Murrow's national television program "See It Now."
Joan Laskowski of West Lafayette, a member of the organization's board of directors since 1971, says the board's unanimous decision to change the name reflects those Indiana founders' desire to identify its support for ACLU's national-level struggle to defend civil liberties. "The Indiana Civil Liberties Union is changing its name to reclaim its roots," Laskowski says.
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