Anthony D. Romero is the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the nation's premier defender of liberty and individual freedom. He took the helm of the organization just seven days before the 9/11 attacks. Shortly afterward, the ACLU launched its national Keep America Safe and Free campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis, achieving court victories on the Patriot Act, uncovering thousands of pages of documents detailing the torture and abuse of detainees in US custody, and filing the first successful legal challenge to the Bush administration's illegal NSA spying program. Romero also led the ACLU in establishing the John Adams Project, a joint effort with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to assist the under-resourced military defense lawyers in the Guantánamo military commissions.
Romero has also led the ACLU in its unique legal challenge to the patents held by a private company on the human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer; in its landmark lawsuit challenging Arizona's anti-immigrant law that invites law enforcement to engage in racial profiling; and in its ongoing campaign to end mass incarceration, which has achieved significant victories, including the 2010 passage of the federal Fair Sentencing Act and the implementation of less punitive, evidence-based criminal justice reforms in several states.
An attorney with a history of public-interest activism, Romero has presided over the most successful membership growth in the ACLU's history and a large increase in national and affiliate staff. This extraordinary growth has allowed the ACLU to expand its nationwide litigation, lobbying, and public education efforts, including new initiatives focused on human rights, racial justice, religious freedom, technology and privacy, reproductive freedom, criminal law reform, and LGBT rights. In 2010, the ACLU completed the largest fundraising campaign on behalf of civil rights and civil liberties in American history. "Leading Freedom Forward: The ACLU Campaign for the Future," along with the ongoing Strategic Affiliate Initiative, launched an unprecedented effort to build the organization's infrastructure by increasing funding to key state affiliates, enhancing advocacy capabilities nationwide, and securing the ACLU's financial future.
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