Vermont Press Releases

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, ACLU of Vermont Triples Membership, Expands Staff

News Release — ACLU of Vermont
March 20, 2017

Contact:
James Lyall, executive director, ACLU of Vermont, 802-223-6304 x 115, [email protected]

Civil Rights Organization Marks Milestone with Increased Emphasis on Public Engagement and Policy Advocacy

MONTPELIER— With a membership that has more than tripled in size since the election of Donald Trump, the ACLU of Vermont announced today that it will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding by adding new staff members and increasing its capacity in litigation, policy advocacy, and community organizing statewide. The ACLU of Vermont has added a full-time policy director to lead its legislative work and is now advertising for a community organizer to mobilize the organization’s rapidly growing membership.

ACLU of Vermont Board President Jim Morse: “Over the past five decades, the ACLU and its supporters have had broad and lasting impact on Vermonters’ most fundamental rights. At the same time, we know we still have a long way to go—on racial justice, privacy, and criminal justice reform, to name a few—and some of the challenges we face now are more daunting than ever before. As today’s announcement demonstrates, the ACLU of Vermont is poised to make an even greater impact in its next fifty years.”

Fifty years ago this Saturday, on March 25, 1967, the ACLU of Vermont was founded by a membership vote. Two months later, the group filed its articles of association. The ACLU of Vermont went on to play an immediate and outsized role in protecting civil liberties in Vermont—from defending free speech, voting rights, and abortion access to combating gender discrimination, racial profiling, and government surveillance.

The ACLU of Vermont’s staff expansion reflects a broader shift by the national ACLU to increase emphasis on mobilizing supporters to advance a civil liberties policy agenda at the federal, state, and local levels. As part of that effort, the ACLU of Vermont recently announced the hiring of its first full-time policy director, Chloé White, who will lead the organization’s legislative advocacy beginning in April. White is a 2015 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where she was a managing editor of the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, and she joins the ACLU after a fellowship at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, & Security. Prior to law school, White worked as a legislative correspondent and assistant in the office of Congressman Dennis Moore of Kansas and as a government affairs assistant at the National Safety Council.

Additionally, the ACLU of Vermont is now advertising for a Community Organizer to coordinate public engagement and outreach efforts statewide in support of the organization’s policy agenda. The Community Organizer will work to mobilize a growing base of ACLU members, volunteers, and allies to enhance the ACLU of Vermont’s political capacity and effectiveness. More information about the position is available at www.acluvt.org.

ACLU of Vermont Executive Director James Lyall: “Of the many lessons we can draw from the ACLU of Vermont’s first fifty years, probably the most important is recognizing the power of the people to hold government accountable. These added staff positions will afford us new opportunities to harness that people power to continue advancing the civil rights of all Vermonters at this critical moment in our history. Five decades since our founding, the ACLU of Vermont is more determined than ever to realize the promise of justice and equality for all.”

Giving Voice to All Vermonters:

Highlights from the ACLU of Vermont’s First Fifty Years

Over the past five decades, through strategic litigation and advocacy, and with the support of thousands of members, volunteers, and donors, the ACLU of Vermont has succeeded in transforming the state’s civil rights landscape:

1967-1979
1967: Filed amicus brief in the case of an Essex Junction librarian challenging a loyalty oath requirement.
1970: Participated in a legal challenge to overturn a Vermont law prohibiting abortions.
1976: Successfully sued on behalf of a female Marine discharged because she was pregnant.
1978: Represented Vergennes High School students in book censorship case.

1980-1989
1981: Intervened on behalf of peace activists denied permission to assemble on the Statehouse lawn.
1982: Filed First Amendment challenge on behalf of a police officer fired for criticizing employer.
1984: Sued Lamoille County Mental Health for discriminating against a worker with disabilities.
1989: Won two separate settlements in cases involving strip searches conducted by police during routine traffic stops.

1990-1999
1993: Filed class action lawsuit on behalf of Vermont inmates alleging lack of adequate medical and mental health care.
1994: Reached settlement on behalf of Swanton man assaulted by police following his arrest for driving a car with Abenaki Nation license plates.
1997: Won landmark Vermont Supreme Court decision, Brigham v. State, finding Vermont’s inequitable school funding system unconstitutional.
1998: Filed amicus brief with Vermont Supreme Court in support of marriage equality.

2000-2009
2000: Worked in a broad coalition to help win passage of Vermont’s landmark civil union legislation in 2000, and full marriage equality in 2009.
2002: Helped defeat state legislation that mirrored the provisions of the USA Patriot Act.
2006: Won U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Vermont campaign finance law was unconstitutional.
2007: Prevailed in the free speech case of middle school student Zachary Guiles, who was suspended for wearing a T-shirt critical of President George W. Bush.

2010-present
2012: Obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of a lesbian couple turned away by an inn that refused to host their wedding reception.
2012: Won legal challenge to inclusion of Christian prayer in Franklin town meetings.
2016: Helped secure passage of omnibus privacy legislation to rein in the use of surveillance technology by law enforcement.
2016: Won settlement on behalf of immigrant unlawfully detained by DMV officials in collusion with immigration agents after he applied for a driver’s privilege card.

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