Patrick Taomae, ACLU of Hawai‘i president, said, “Our
mission is to protect and defend civil liberties in Hawai‘i
with eternal vigilance, but the ACLU needs to improve on educating
people, mainly students in high school and college, about their
individual rights and freedoms embodied in the Bill of Rights.”
Taomae, who is an attorney for corporate and business law,
said there are three areas the ACLU focuses on to create
These include public education, legislation, and litigation.
He said the ACLU is funded by private donations only, with no
government support whatsoever. Being “watch dogs” for
the American public, Taomae said, the ACLU helps protect the
rights of people by “supporting the good laws and fighting
the bad ones.”
Although the ACLU has a nationwide membership pool of approximately
400,000 people, there are only about 2,000 members here in Hawai‘i.
Taomae hopes that more Hawai‘i residents will become active
members of the ACLU to help both it and the media (free press) “keep
the government honest.” This includes supporting the issues
on the ACLU 2005 Workplan, which include:
Deciding what to do about The Patriot Act
Surveillance, Dissent, and Free Speech
Defending Religious Liberty
Equal Rights for LGBT People
Protecting Reproductive Freedom
Human Rights at Home and Abroad
If some of these issues sound unfamiliar, Taomae encourages
students to keep up on what’s going on in the world. “If everybody
followed national and local issues, the public would make better
decisions in regard to their legal rights,” he said.
Taomae mentioned the ACLU of Hawai‘i does have student
membership fees, and that its Web site, www.acluhawaii.org, can
assist anyone who wants to take part in the ACLU’s mission.
Taomae works with the community often, visiting schools and various
organizations to discuss the ACLU of Hawai‘i and its importance
to the state. “We are a resource,” he said. “But
everyone has to do their part and do as much as they can to educate
themselves so that they know what their civil liberties are.”
For more information on how to participate, contact the ACLU
of Hawai‘i at 522-5900. For more information about the
ACLU, from ACLU national headquarters, visit www.aclu.org.