- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - American Civil Liberties Union officials say they have begun a new and more aggressive effort to intervene in Missouri and Kansas over highly public issues like same-sex marriage, privacy and police policy.

The ACLU’s Missouri chapter has been actively involved in the protests in Ferguson over Michael Brown’s shooting death by a Ferguson police officer. It has sued on behalf of a reporter arrested during a protest and argued for protections for street demonstrators.

In Kansas, the state’s chapter has helped lead the legal battle over same-sex marriage ban, The Kansas City Star (https://bit.ly/1qRAQnE ) reported.

Critics say the nonprofit is straying from its initial mission of protecting civil liberties to promote a more liberal agenda involving abortion rights, immigrants and legalized marijuana.

“The ACLU grates on a lot of people because they claim to be neutral when, in fact, they’re not,” Kansas City attorney Eddie Greim said. “They’re choosing a side.”

But Jeffrey Mittman, the ACLU’s executive director in Missouri, said the group has worked closely with conservatives before. He noted the group worked with the Republican Party to pass a Missouri constitutional amendment protecting electronic communications from unreasonable searches. However, he also acknowledges, that the public doesn’t always see the ACLU as nonpartisan.

“We do have a job to educate people,” Mittman said. “Don’t think in terms of red and blue. Don’t think in terms of left and right. Think in terms of the Constitution.”

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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