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ACLU President Susan Herman talks defending free speech

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The American Civil Liberties Union has worked tirelessly on some of the biggest and most controversial issues that affect our country.

Whether its ensuring that LGBT Americans have the right to serve openly in our military or helping the KKK in its fight to adopt a stretch of highway in Georgia.

"To me the danger is not from the free speech," said ACLU President Susan Herman. "The danger is from the violence. And we represent people who want to speak, no matter what they want to say, as long as they’re just speaking."

Herman, who's been at the helm of ACLU for nearly a decade, is only the second woman to hold that title in nearly 100 years.

Her passion for people's freedoms started back in elementary school.

"When I was in the third grade and came up against the fact that my public school library had a girls’ section and a boys’ section. I was only allowed to take books out of the girls’ section," she said. "I think that was an eye opener."

It was a life changing moment that helped shape her political beliefs.

"You call yourself a civil libertarian. What does that mean? How do you define that?" asked Tamsen Fadal.

"I think one basic idea is the government doesn’t get to decide for you  — what religion you’re going to practice, what ideas you’re going to express, what kind of family you want, Herman said.

Every week, she takes her experience from the court room into the classroom —  teaching constitutional and criminal law to students at Brooklyn Law School.

"I think when learning about criminal procedure, I think having a professor who basically lives it every day, gives us a really unique perspective as law students," said student Ryan Foley.

"To me what really ties all the ideas together is the golden rule," Herman said. "The basic idea that you wouldn’t want to be treating other people in a way you wouldn’t want to be treated yourself."