The Maryland ACLU’s 75th birthday calls to mind the words of our national founder, Roger Baldwin: “No battle for civil liberties ever stays won.”

In 1921, Elizabeth Gilman, daughter of Johns Hopkin’s president, created the Maryland Civil Liberties Committee (precursor to the ACLU) to oppose arrests and deportations of Russian immigrant workers. In the wake of 9/11, the ACLU filed suits to stop the mass arrests, detention and deportation of Middle Easterners.

In March 1931, a spate of lynchings occasioned Maryland ACLU’s founding. In the ‘60s we pressed for desegregated juries and civilian review of police brutality against Baltimore’s African Americans. This year, with NAACP as our lead plaintiff, we sued the Baltimore City police for arresting and detaining thousands of mostly African Americans without probable cause.

In the 30’s, and again in the 80’s, we fought to protect minority party access to the ballot for national elections. This year, amidst concerns about voter disenfranchisement, we are working to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballots and have them counted.

In the 40’s, we stood up for Planned Parenthood, when its “Marriage Counseling” meeting was cancelled because the Catholic Archdiocese opposed it. In 1992, we stood with Planned Parenthood to pass by wide margins referendum “Question 6,” securing abortion rights in Maryland.

In the 40s and 50s we fought loyalty oaths, including Maryland’s extreme Ober Law. After 9/11, we spurned the Combined Federal Campaign’s required “oath” that none of our employees are “terrorists.”

In 1977, we won official recognition for the Gay Student Alliance at Essex Community College. In the 1990s, we got Maryland’s sodomy statute (long used to single out gay men) overturned. This year, we got a state trial court to declare unconstitutional Maryland’s marriage law, which denies civil marriage protections to same-sex couples and their families.

And then there are the perennial free speech cases. In the 1960’s, we defended picketers and protesters arrested for demonstrating against segregated conditions at parks and restaurants. In the ‘70s, we represented the National States Rights Party in the Supreme Court, to establish that protesters must be in court before the government can ban their demonstrations. In the 1990s, we represented the Klan’s right to not have outside groups interfere with their message as they marched down a main street in Western Maryland. The First Amendment won in every case.

Thomas Jefferson was right: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” After 75 years, we’re the ACLU, still standing for (see inside!):