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Q&A: How the ACLU operates

Q&A: How the ACLU operates

How the ACLU operates

In reference to the ACLU, who makes up the membership, how is it financed and how does it select causes to support?

For help with this question we turned to Tampa Bay Times columnist and editorial writer Robyn E. Blumner, who was the director of the ACLU in Florida from 1989 until she joined the Times in 1997. She writes:

"The ACLU is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization. Members join the national organization by paying annual dues and that automatically makes them members of the state affiliate where they live. The people who join the organization do so from all walks of life, all income levels and all backgrounds.

"Funding for the organization is supplemented by fundraising major annual gifts from current members and from grants given by private foundations. No government money is accepted beyond the attorney fees governments sometimes have to pay if they lose a lawsuit.

"Cases are selected by state affiliate offices usually in consultation with a volunteer panel of lawyers. Anyone can file a request with their local ACLU affiliate office to take up their legal claim but only a handful of such cases are usually taken on an annual basis.

"Most ACLU offices only have one or two paid lawyers to handle cases. The rest are handled by volunteers. Typically cases taken have a strong constitutional claim and would somehow set a precedent to protect civil liberties or civil rights."

Replacing a Social Security card

How do I get a lost Social Security card replaced?

You can download a form at and mail it and documents to your local Social Security office. Those documents must show evidence of age (birth certificate is preferred, but a U.S. hospital record of birth, religious record established before age of 5 showing age or date of birth, passport or final adoption decree showing information taken from birth certificate also might be accepted) and evidence of identity (driver's license or ID card or passport). Documents will be returned. You can find your local Social Security office here:

Expired passports returned

I just received my renewed passport and my expired passport in separate envelopes. Why would I be sent my expired passport if it is no longer valid?

Materials used in the U.S. passport application process and passports are mailed in separate envelopes because the passport application is adjudicated in one location, while the new passport book or card is printed in another. Expired passports are returned because there is a demand for them, according to a U.S. State Department official, both as a reminder of travels and because some contain valid, hard-to-replace visas for other countries.

Q&A: How the ACLU operates

Q&A: How the ACLU operates 08/19/12 [Last modified: Sunday, August 19, 2012 4:30am]
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