CHARLESTON - For the state's American Civil Liberties Union, it's hard to predict who will be on its side.

But the ACLU's members can bet that, whatever they do, they're sure to spark some sort of debate.

So when the non-profit organization took on a case challenging the constitutionality of Ritchie County's ban on Sunday hunting, they weren't surprised to get a few phone calls.

"When we took the case, (Executive Director) Andrew Schneider said he received two calls after it was reported that we filed it," said Charleston attorney Jason Huber, who is working with the ACLU on the case.

"One was from (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and they were saying 'What are you doing?' And the other was from the (National Rifle Association), and they were screaming 'Way to go!'"

Huber says the ACLU isn't worried about what political interest groups it offends or helps. It only has one goal: To protect the Bill of Rights.

The state's ACLU was founded in 1971. Today, attorney Terri Baur oversees all of its legal endeavors.

Those include: The case of two people who were asked to leave Charleston's Capitol Complex during President George Bush's July 4 visit because of their anti-Bush T-shirt; an Iranian couple living in Morgantown who say they were fired from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, with no reason given; a gay man who says he had a heart attack while driving and the Welch City Police refused to help him because he is gay; and a paroled prisoner who says he was not allowed to live with his fiancee, instead being released to a rescue mission.

Also, the state recently took up the issue of a portrait of Jesus Christ that hung in the halls of Bridgeport High School. The suit demanded it be taken down .

During litigation, a thief stole the portrait. Eventually, the Harrison County Board of Education gave into the ACLU's demands and promised to never put any religious object back on public display.

The organization's website says it wishes to protect civil rights such as freedom of speech and press, freedom of religion, privacy, equal protection/discrimination and due process.

In the Sunday hunting case, the ACLU argues that citizens' constitutional right to bear arms for recreational and hunting purposes has been violated. Ritchie County Circuit Judge Robert Holland did not agree and ruled in favor of the County Commission and West Virginia Farm Bureau, but Huber's petition for appeal was accepted by the state Supreme Court.

"Hopefully this highlights the significance of the work that the ACLU of West Virginia does," he said. "Their only agenda is to protect the Bill of Rights and the Constitution."

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