Wednesday, May 23, 2007

ACLU: Not Just Silent on Free Speech, Actually Opposed

Today in The Wall Street Journal, Wendy Kaminer has an op-ed in which she chronicles the ACLU's move from being a legitimate defender of free speech to being simply another liberal advocacy group. "Once the nation's leading civil liberties group and a reliable defender of everyone's speech rights, the ACLU is being transformed into just another liberal human-rights group that reliably defends the rights of liberal speakers."

Kaminer notes several important, recent First Amendment cases, such as Harper v. Poway, in which the ACLU remained silent because of an unwillingness to defend anti-homosexual or anti-abortion speech. Kaminer mentions the Center's university student group cases, but mistakenly states that "the ACLU tends to absent itself from cases on college campuses involving the associational rights of Christian student groups to discriminate against gay students, in accordance with their religious beliefs." Far from "absenting itself," the ACLU filed amicus briefs in opposition to the Christian Legal Society chapters at Hastings College of the Law and Southern Illinois University.

Ironically, it was the ACLU in the 1960s and 1970s that was marginalized and barred from university campuses. Indeed, many of the cases the Center relies on in defending the free speech rights of Christian student groups are ACLU cases. Now that the ACLU and the gay and lesbian student groups have free reign on university campuses, the ACLU has had a dramatic change of heart. Once the champion of free speech on university campuses, the ACLU now outright opposes such speech.


Bobby said...

So, I'm a fairly left wing guy, but I also read whole know thy enemy thing. When I read the post about the ACLU, it was one of those rare but beautiful times where people across the spectrum can agree.

I was a member of the ACLU ever since I could afford the dues. I had been raised with this heroic ideal of a group of advocates who cared so passionately about freedom and the Constitution that they would represent even those who they thought to be morally reprehensible.

Sadly, that really was just an heroic ideal.

The ACLU of today is a shell of the group it once was. I wholeheartedly agree with the post. In fact, the only real pleasure I take out of the group is telling their telemarketers that I'll rejoin once they rediscover their soul.

Becky said...

It would help if you all would get your facts straight. The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties actually filed an amicus brief SUPPORTING Chase Harper's right to wear the anti-gay t-shirt, saying it was free speech that did not amount to harassment that the school was permitted to punish.

Check out their website if you continue to be sad and suspicious.

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