We’d like to thank the ACLU for admitting what we’ve known all along

ACLU finally admits it’s really only interested in protecting speech it agrees with

By —— Bio and Archives--June 22, 2018

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ACLU finally admits it’s really only interested in protecting speech it agrees with
Anyone who’s spent any amount of time following national politics is aware of the capricious way the ACLU has pursued its alleged goal of supporting civil liberty.  It’s always been clear that there were political motivations impacting their decisions and, in recent years, they’ve done less and less to argue otherwise. Now, they’ve dropped the pretense altogether.


New guidelines make it virtually impossible to argue that the outfit is much more than an ideological advocacy group.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The American Civil Liberties Union has explicitly endorsed the view that free speech can harm “marginalized” groups by undermining their civil rights. “Speech that denigrates such groups can inflict serious harms and is intended to and often will impede progress toward equality,” the ACLU declares in new guidelines governing case selection and “Conflicts Between Competing Values or Priorities.”

This is presented as an explanation rather than a change of policy, and free-speech advocates know the ACLU has already lost its zeal for vigorously defending the speech it hates. ACLU leaders previously avoided acknowledging that retreat, however, in the apparent hope of preserving its reputation as the nation’s premier champion of the First Amendment.

This isn’t particularly surprising. It’s been obvious, for decades, that they weren’t particularly interested in defending actual civil liberties. They generally don’t care for cases that would support the individual right to bear arms, are picky about which 1st Amendment cases they champion, and have (at best) a cagey relationship with the U.S Constitution. As they once stated in reference to their 2nd Amendment position: “like all ACLU policies, it reflects the ACLU’s own understanding of the Constitution and civil liberties.”

…So what the Constitution actually says is less important than what they feel like it says.

What’s shocking here is how up front they’ve decided to be about their disinterest in the equal application of the 1st Amendment.  Gone is the era of “tolerating the speech you hate to protect the speech you love.” These days about “impact of proposed speech,” “advancing goals,” and the ACLU’s now-nonexistent “credibility.”

The 2018 guidelines claim that “the ACLU is committed to defending speech rights without regard to whether the views expressed are consistent with or opposed to the ACLU’s core values, priorities and goals.” But directly contradicting that assertion, they also cite as a reason to decline taking a free-speech case “the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values.”

In selecting speech cases to defend, the ACLU will now balance the “impact of the proposed speech and the impact of its suppression.” Factors like the potential effect of the speech on “marginalized communities” and even on “the ACLU’s credibility” could militate against taking a case. Fundraising and communications officials helped formulate the new guidelines.

In other words, it’s not about pure free speech or defense of the 1st Amendment.  It’s about the ACLU, its goals, protecting its preferred classes, and – of course – fundraising.

All of this, of course, is absolutely within their rights. If they want to abandon the idea that they support free expression, they’re free to do so.  In fact, we’d like to thank the ACLU for admitting what we’ve known all along.


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Robert Laurie -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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