The American Civil Liberties Union more than quadrupled its number of paying members, from 400,000 to 1.84 million, in the 15 months after Donald Trump was elected president, according to a report in The New York Times.
Donations to the nonprofit group have also skyrocketed. According to the ACLU’s executive director, Anthony Romero, the organization has raised nearly $120 million since the 2016 presidential election. Online donations in previous years had totaled just $3 million to $5 million annually.
“Until Trump most of our support came from people who have been with us since we challenged Nixon,” Romero told the Times. “Now we’re kind of cool. Cool’s not a word generally associated with us.”
The ACLU has been on the front lines of more than a hundred legal actions against Trump administration policies, including the White House’s series of travel bans on the citizens of several Muslim-majority nations. The group has also challenged the Justice Department’s family separation policies, Trump’s voter fraud commission and the president’s reversal of an Obama-era contraception mandate.
All told, the group has taken 170 “Trump-related legal actions” since he took office, including 83 lawsuits, according to the Times.
Other left-leaning groups have also seen a surge in donations after various Trump administration actions. Planned Parenthood reported an “unprecedented” level of new support shortly after the election and has become a frequent place for high-profile donations meant to counter the White House. And James Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox and the son of conservative media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, gave $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League last year in a public rebuke to the president.
Romero told the Times that a large portion of the money it’s received in recent months has gone toward hiring more lawyers, but he stressed that the Justice Department’s war chest will always been orders of magnitude larger than a non-profit.
“We’re the biggest of the advocacy groups, but even if we go from 300 to 500 lawyers, we are still tiny,” Romero told the outlet. “The power of the federal government can’t be overestimated.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.