ACLU Would Like You To Ignore Partisan Activism, Mission Drift

David Cole (ACLU’s National Legal Director) wrote an article this week. The Nation Critics accuse the group of “no longer defending”[ing]We disagree with those we do not agree. Some former supporters have described the group as an “image of its former self,” that “leaves the First Amendment behind” Cole claims that the group “continues to exist.”[s]We believe the First Amendment is the cornerstone of democracy and defend it because of that belief. Although he gives many excellent examples, his defense fails to address the extent that internal partisan shifts have reduced the ACLU’s mission.

Cole cites Skokie (Illinois) as an historical example. This case was in which the state’s ACLU chapter defended neo Nazis’ right to march through a small town that had hundreds of Holocaust survivors. This case is often cited as a key example of free speech defense.

After the Unite The Right protest in Charlottesville in Virginia in August 2017, in which one white supremacist drove his car into counterprotesters and killed a woman, the ACLU began to shift its focus. After being denied permission, the Virginia chapter of ACLU helped to secure permits for rally organizers.

Cole headed an ACLU Committee that developed new guidelines and case selection procedures for the ACLU in the months following. Although the document affirms the organisation’s commitment of free speech, the document also lists many ways that the organization could distance itself from the beliefs of potential clients, including by “d…”Press statements, opinion pieces, social media and any other information should not be considered as a criticism of the views expressed. fora.” Lara Bazelon (law professor, University of San Francisco School of Law) wrote that it was unclear how loudly disavowing clients would be consistent with the lawyers’ obligation to represent them zealously. Atlantic. It is impossible, even if I speak as a criminal-defense attorney.

According to the new guidelines, “t” is now defined.The ACLU will generally not represent protesters.
Try to marche while you are armed
Whether or not the state laws allow or prohibit it. Protests are not allowed to include weapons..” This organization signed an amicus short last year in support of New York’s gun registration laws. The brief stated that guns should not be allowed in public areas and “restrictions on firearms in public spaces” is appropriate. According to ACLU, this makes the Second Amendment inferior to the First Amendment.

In the last few years, the organization seems to have drifted into outright partisan political activism: Rather than simply advocating for specific civil liberties–protecting policies or ballot initiatives, in 2018, the ACLU spent $800,000 on a campaign ad for Democrat Stacey Abrams in her run for governor of Georgia. The ACLU petitioned last year for the government’s cancellation of up to $50,000 each in student loan debt. No matter how meritful either of these positions may be, they are not directly connected to civil or constitutional liberties defense.

Cole defends the ACLU’s single-minded defense against free speech. But Cole doesn’t adequately acknowledge that today’s organization is beset by internal struggle over whether freedom of speech and social justice are compatible. Cole does not acknowledge that these criticisms are often coming from the ACLU. Wendy Kaminer (an ex-member of ACLU’s board) originally released the revised case guidelines. She was critical about the ACLU organization. Nadine Strossen (a former president) and Ira Glasser (ex-executive director), both criticised the organization’s post-Charlottesville pivot. David Goldberger was one of many Jewish lawyers who famously defended Skokie neo Nazis. He said about the current organization, “I felt it was more important to A.C.L.U. Staff should identify with clients, progressive causes and not stand for principle.

The ACLU’s original mission of being “the nation’s foremost defender the rights enshrined within the U.S. Constitution” has been lost in many ways. Constitution.” Cole acknowledged that there are “some leftists who are less committed” to free speech today than in the past. Cole fails to recognize that the same applies to the ACLU.