Difference between revisions of "ACLU"

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The ACLU is the single biggest legal advocate for pornography (see above), claiming that it is a form of [[free speech]].  Less significantly, the ACLU has also helped -- or not helped -- in the following cases:
 
The ACLU is the single biggest legal advocate for pornography (see above), claiming that it is a form of [[free speech]].  Less significantly, the ACLU has also helped -- or not helped -- in the following cases:
  
*The ACLU rarely defends Christian speech, and virtually never defends speech that is critical of homosexuality. The ACLU was silent with respect to the widely publicized censorship of a T-shirt critical of homosexuality that was worn by student Tyler Chase Harper at his public school. "It's hard to explain the ACLU's apparent equanimity about the violation of Mr. Harper's First Amendment rights -- unless you consider the content of his speech. This case does not appear to be anomalous. Despite its professed commitment to religious liberty, for example, 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."<ref>Wendy Kaminer, "The American Liberal Liberties Union," Wall Street Journal (May 23, 2007).</ref>
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*In ''Harper v. Poway Unified School District'', the ACLU supported the right of Tyler Chase Harper, a Christian, to wear a shirt with the words "Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned" and "Homosexuality Is Shameful 'Romans 1:27'" in his public school. <ref>[http://www.aclusandiego.org/news_item.php?cat_id_sel=002&sub_cat_id_sel=000014&article_id=000293 ACLU DEFENDS CONTROVERSIAL SPEECH IN PUBLIC SCHOOL: Amicus Brief in Harper v. Poway Unified School District]</ref>
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 +
*The ACLU rarely defends Christian speech, and virtually never defends speech that is critical of homosexuality. "Despite its professed commitment to religious liberty, for example, 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."<ref>Wendy Kaminer, "The American Liberal Liberties Union," Wall Street Journal (May 23, 2007).</ref>
  
 
*In 1978, the ACLU defended the right of the National Socialist Party of America (neo-Nazi) to march through Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago that is a community of a large number of Jewish people and Holocaust survivors.  The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the village to issue a permit for demonstration to the Nazi Party, which was never used, that was later upheld by the Supreme Court.  The ACLU experienced a severe backlash over this case when membership dropped by 25% and plunged the organization $500,000 in debt. <ref> http://openweb.tvnews.vanderbilt.edu/1978-2/1978-02-23-NBC-6.html </ref> <ref> http://www.acluprocon.org/ACLUHistory/HistoryTable.html</ref>  
 
*In 1978, the ACLU defended the right of the National Socialist Party of America (neo-Nazi) to march through Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago that is a community of a large number of Jewish people and Holocaust survivors.  The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the village to issue a permit for demonstration to the Nazi Party, which was never used, that was later upheld by the Supreme Court.  The ACLU experienced a severe backlash over this case when membership dropped by 25% and plunged the organization $500,000 in debt. <ref> http://openweb.tvnews.vanderbilt.edu/1978-2/1978-02-23-NBC-6.html </ref> <ref> http://www.acluprocon.org/ACLUHistory/HistoryTable.html</ref>  

Revision as of 20:57, 6 March 2008

Current logo of the ACLU.

The ACLU is the American Civil Liberties Union, a leftist, secular-progressive organization. It was run for its first 30 years by an American socialist named Roger Baldwin, who helped found it in 1920. This organization is devoted to protecting certain types of civil liberties of Americans and defending them in court.

It All Depends On Whose Church Is Being Separated

Illegal Immigration

The ACLU demanded $2.3 million in fees for challenging a law against illegal immigration. This demand "illustrates the circus the ACLU brought to this case," the Mayor of Hazelton, Pennsylvania said. "They had 20 attorneys sitting in the courtroom at a time, 16 of them doing nothing but running up the bill."[1]

In the case the ACLU persuaded a federal court to declare a municipal ordinance to be unconstitutional.

The Establishment Clause

The ACLU often insists that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution requires censorship of religious expression. In 2007, for example, the ACLU of Tennessee sought to stop prayer and prayer-related activities by the volunteer Praying Parents. Doe v. Wilson County Sch. Sys., 524 F. Supp. 2d 964 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 9, 2007).

The Ten Commandments

ACLU chapters frequently sue to compel removal displays of the Ten Commandments from public property. For example, in McCreary County v. ACLU, 545 U.S. 844 (2005), the ACLU of Kentucky forced two counties to remove displays of the Ten Commandments from their courthouses. In Utah, the ACLU even announced a scavenger hunt for anyone who could find a display of the Ten Commandments monument that the ACLU could demand be removed. The ACLU typically receives substantial legal fees from the government in each of these cases.

Other Religious Symbols

In 1994, the ACLU of New Jersey sued Jersey City, New Jersey to challenge a menorah and a Christmas tree at city hall. A federal district judge declared the display to be unconstitutional, but the appellate court, in a 2-1 opinion written by now-Justice Samuel Alito, found a modified display to be constitutional. ACLU of New Jersey v. Schundler (1999). Then-Judge Alito wrote, "government may celebrate Christmas in some manner and form, but not in a way that endorses Christian doctrine."

In 2007, the ACLU Foundation of Texas filed an amicus brief for removal of a longstanding monument to William Mosher outside Harris County Civil Courthouse because the statute contained a depiction of an open Bible. Staley v. Harris County, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 9296 (5th Cir. 2007). The court ruled that Harris County must pay attorneys fees to the Americans United For Separation of Church & State, which often appears along with the ACLU in demanding removal of religious symbols from government property and censoring criticism of evolution in public school.

The ACLU demanded that Los Angeles County remove a tiny cross from the Los Angeles County seal, even though the seal contained nearly a dozen symbols including the Greek goddess Pomona standing on the shore of the Pacific Ocean -- about which the ACLU did not complain. The seal also displayed other California motifs, including the Spanish galleon San Salvador, a tuna fish, a cow, stars representing the movie and television industries, the Hollywood Bowl, oil derricks, and a pair of engineering instruments to represent Los Angeles' contributions to industrial construction and space exploration. The cross was a tiny part of the seal. But Los Angeles County gave into the ACLU's demands and spent $700,000 to censor the cross and replace it on all official government documents, publications and signage.

The ACLU of Louisiana demanded that a school board stop allowing an invocation to be said at the beginning of its meetings. In Doe v. Tangipahoa Parish School Bd. (2007), an en banc Fifth Circuit dismissed the claim for lack of proof that anyone had been injured or even offended by hearing these invocations.

Evolution

In 2004, the ACLU filed Selman v. Cobb County School District.[2] If the plaintiffs, five parents in the Georgia district, won the case, the school district would have to pay their lawyers. The ACLU argued [3] that the district had violated the Establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution by putting stickers in biology textbooks that said, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."[4] The trial judge ruled in favor of the ACLU [5], but his ruling was vacated on appeal.[6] The case was eventually settled. The school district agreed to remove the stickers, to avoid altering science textbooks or making "any disclaimers regarding evolution", and to teach the state Board of Education's core curriculum, which includes evolution, although that wasn't under dispute in the original suit. In addition, they paid $166,669.12 to Atlanta law firm Bondurant, Mixon & Elmore.[7] [8]

Another example of ACLU litigation was Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.[9], also known as the Intelligent design case. The ACLU prevailed in prohibiting administrators from reading a short statement that mentions Intelligent Design to students, and forbade the school board from issuing a warning that Darwin's theory has gaps.[10] In his opinion, Judge John E. Jones III heavily relied on the later-vacated ruling in Selman v. Cobb County School District, and on ACLU briefs.[11] He also cited the Establishment test, the Lemon test, and the reasonable student standard.[12] The judge also ordered fees paid to the ACLU and its lawyers, totaling $2,067,000.[13]

The Boy Scouts

The ACLU filed a lawsuit to prohibit the federal government from continuing to allow the Boy Scouts, a charitable organization for teenagers, to use an Army base in Virginia for a quadrennial gathering. In 2005, more than 40,000 Boy Scouts attended this National Boy Scout Jamboree.

Although the Boy Scouts have been conducting this Jamboree for 70 years, this lawsuit was not filed until 1999, after the Boy Scouts enforced its policy against having openly homosexual Scout leaders. The theory of the lawsuit was that because Scouts swear an oath of "duty to God," it violates the Establishment Clause for the government to allow this joint project.

A federal district court ruled for the ACLU, but the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit overturned the lower court ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the suit which will allow the government to continue to sponsor this event for the Boy Scouts.[14]

Pornography

In Ashcroft v. ACLU (2004), the ACLU challenged and invalidated the Child Online Protection Act, which would have required pornographers to take reasonable steps to restrict access by minors to porn on the Internet. The Act, which the Supreme Court struck down at the request of the ACLU, did not censor a single word or picture. It merely required the pornographers to screen their websites from minors, which can be done by credit card or other verification.

The ACLU often argues in favor of pornography before courts and administrative boards. Charles Rust-Tierney was an executive for the ACLU of Virginia who argued against the use of Internet filters on the computers at the Loudoun County Library Board:[15]

"The ACLU of Virginia urges the board to carefully consider a new Internet Use Policy that allows for maximum Internet access ...."

Rust-Tierney, who served as the Virginia ACLU president until 2005, was serving on its board of directors when he was arrested in February 2007 for possession of child pornography that a U.S. magistrate described as "the most perverted and nauseating and sickening type of child pornography" she ever had seen. The former Virginia ACLU president later entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to eight years in jail.[16]

Same-sex Marriage

The ACLU of New Jersey filed an amicus curiae brief in favor of same-sex marriage in Lewis v. Harris, 188 N.J. 415 (1006). The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of civil unions, but by a 4-3 margin did not require same-sex marriage.

The ACLU sues schools when a student alleges encountering "anti-gay peer harassment and bullying based on his perceived sexual orientation." [17] The ACLU holds the school (and hence the taxpayers) liable for actions based on conduct by some students towards others.

The ACLU of Minnesota sued to force the Osseo Area School District to grant equal access to the schools public address (PA) system, yearbook, fundraising and field trips by a pro-homosexual school club named the Straights and Gays for Equality (“SAGE”).[18] The school district already had a club entitled "Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Trans-gender, Questioning and Allies," and already had a SAGE club, but SAGE was designated as non-curricular and wanted the additional rights of communication.

The ACLU invoked the Equal Access Act to argue that as long as the school district granted these rights to other clubs, such as cheerleading and synchronized swimming, it must grant these rights to SAGE also. No, the school district argued in defending its action, cheerleading is related to physical education while SAGE is not, and thus SAGE should not have the same rights. However, there were other non phys-ed sports that got funding.

The district court ruled in favor of the ACLU, and the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit unanimously affirmed. The Court ordered the school district to give SAGE the same rights as the cheerleading club. The ACLU will be able to demand substantial attorneys' fees at taxpayer expense.

Similarly, the ACLU of Florida sued the Okeechobee School Board to force it to allow a Gay-Straight Alliance club at Okeechobee High School. Though the school objected to this club as a "sex-based" club, the ACLU persuaded a federal judge to rule in its favor, and it will likely recover substantial attorneys fees at taxpayer expense. See Gay-Straight Alliance of Okeechobee High Sch. v. School Board of Okeechobee County, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25729 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 6, 2007).

Abortion

The ACLU is generally against laws that restrict access to abortion, such as parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion and informed consent for the woman herself. ACLU attorneys have argued several cases in support of abortion.

Polygamy

The ACLU has defended polygamists.[19][20]

Free Speech

The ACLU is the single biggest legal advocate for pornography (see above), claiming that it is a form of free speech. Less significantly, the ACLU has also helped -- or not helped -- in the following cases:

  • In Harper v. Poway Unified School District, the ACLU supported the right of Tyler Chase Harper, a Christian, to wear a shirt with the words "Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned" and "Homosexuality Is Shameful 'Romans 1:27'" in his public school. [21]
  • The ACLU rarely defends Christian speech, and virtually never defends speech that is critical of homosexuality. "Despite its professed commitment to religious liberty, for example, 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."[22]
  • In 1978, the ACLU defended the right of the National Socialist Party of America (neo-Nazi) to march through Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago that is a community of a large number of Jewish people and Holocaust survivors. The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the village to issue a permit for demonstration to the Nazi Party, which was never used, that was later upheld by the Supreme Court. The ACLU experienced a severe backlash over this case when membership dropped by 25% and plunged the organization $500,000 in debt. [23] [24]
  • On January 16, 2008, the ACLU issued a statement supporting Sen. Larry Craig(R-ID) to have his guilty plea to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct in a Minnesota airport restroom withdrawn on the basis that a closed bathroom stall is a private location. While not advocating sex in public bathrooms, the ACLU suggested the police have better means of enforcing laws instead of using entrapment. [25]
  • In September 2000, the ACLU represented the North American Man/Boy Love Association when the parents of Jeffrey Curley, who was raped, tortured and murdered by two men, filed a $200 million federal lawsuit for wrongful death. John Roberts, the executive director of the Massachusetts ACLU stated, It's not a real popular case, but the First Amendment issues are clear. The case was dismissed on a technicality. A subsequent lawsuit filed against the murderers, who were not represented by the ACLU, was successful. Jeffrey Curley's father, Robert Curley, was sympathetic to the ACLU's opposition to his lawsuit. "I really do have a lot of respect for them, they are very consistent in who they defend. It takes a lot of nerve to defend the groups they have over the years. They have a lot of courage." [26] [27]
  • The ACLU has been involved with lawsuits filed against Attorney Generals Reno, Ashcroft and Gonzales when fighting the enforcement of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). Federal courts have consistently ruled COPA violates the constitutional protection of free speech and have forbidden enforcement by the federal government. The most current ruling on March 22, 2007 is being appealed.[28]
  • In 1949, the ACLU defended Father Arthur Terminiello, an ex-Catholic priest, who gave a speech at a rally in Chicago that was laced with racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Communist comments. Father Terminiello was fined $100 for violating Chicago's breach of peace ordinance. This fine was later reversed by the Supreme Court. [29] [30]
  • The ACLU of Nevada successfully defended the right of a street preacher, Jim Webber, to proselytize his pro-Jesus, anti-sin, and occasional anti-homosexual messages on the Las Vegas strip. The unsuccessful campaign conducted by the casinos failed and allowed Webber and others to stay. Webber is quoted as saying, "the ACLU has been my guardian angel. They have been the ones that have provided the ability for me to stand on the street and talk with people about Jesus Christ." [31] [32]

Prisoner and student rights

In the 2007 case Spratt v. Rhode Island Department of Corrections, the ACLU bought case against the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institute following the prison's decision to bar Christian prisoner and lay minister Wesley Spratt from preaching to other inmates during weekly services. The ACLU won the case on appeal, securing the right for Spratt to hold religious services for other inmates so long as these do not conflict with prison security.[33]

In 2004, student Abbey Moler selected a bible verse to accompany her picture in a school yearbook. The school subsequently removed this text before publication. The ACLU filed suit against the Utica Community School District, on the grounds that this censorship violated Moler's first-amendment rights to free expression and freedom of religion. The case was settled out of court, with the school district agreeing to replace the verse in following prints of the yearbook and correct it by means of a sticker in copies still in its possession.[34][35]

Medical Records

The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of the privacy of Rush Limbaugh in his medical records when he was under investigation for 'doctor shopping.' The ACLU argued that the privacy rights of a patient were being violated.[36]

Terrorism

The ACLU has challenged the authority of the President to authorize wireless wiretaps of overseas communications. In ACLU v. NSA, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected the ACLU's challenge.

Views of the ACLU Founder

Roger Baldwin, a co-founder of the ACLU and its first leader, was born and raised in Massachusetts. He said that his "social work began in my mind in the Unitarian Church when I was ten or twelve years old, and I started to do things that I thought would help other people.”

In the 1920 and 1930s he was sympathetic to the social goals and aspirations of the emerging communist nations. In 1934, Balwin published his goals in Soviet Russia Today:[37]

I believe in non-violent methods of struggle as most effective in the long run for building up successful working class power. Where they cannot be followed or where they are not even permitted by the ruling class, obviously only violent tactics remain. I champion civil liberty as the best of the non-violent means of building the power on which workers rule must be based. If I aid the reactionaries to get free speech now and then, if I go outside the class struggle to fight against censorship, it is only because those liberties help to create a more hospitable atmosphere for working class liberties. The class struggle is the central conflict of the world; all others are incidental.
Proletarian Liberty in Practice
When that power of the working class is once achieved, as it has been only in the Soviet Union, I am for maintaining it by any means whatever. Dictatorship is the obvious means in a world of enemies at home and abroad. I dislike it in principle as dangerous to its own objects. But the Soviet Union has already created liberties far greater than exist elsewhere in the world. They are liberties that most closely affect the lives of the people — power in the trade unions, in peasant organizations, in the cultural life of nationalities, freedom of women in public and private life, and a tremendous development of education for adults and children. . . .

In 1940 he successfully fought to revise the ACLU charter to prohibit those affiliated with totalitarian organizations from serving on the ACLU board. The immediate target was the former-Wobbly and present Communist Party member, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

In 1947 General Douglas MacArthur arranged for Baldwin to serve as a civil liberties consultant in Japan.

See Also

References

  1. http://www.centredaily.com/news/state/story/194756.html]
  2. ACLU: Parents Challenge Evolution Disclaimer In Georgia Textbooks [1]
  3. ACLU Pretrial Brief in Selman et al v. Cobb County, 11/12/2004 [2]
  4. Judge's Decision, Selman v. Cobb County School District[3]
  5. Judge's Decision, Selman v. Cobb County School District[4]
  6. Appeal Decision, Selman v. Cobb County School District[5]
  7. "Agreement Ends Textbook Sticker Case", press release from Cobb County School District including settlement agreement [6]
  8. ACLU: Georgia School Board Drops Defense of Anti-Evolution Stickers[7]
  9. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District: Decision of the Court, 400 F.Supp.2d 707 (M.D. Pa. 2005) [8]
  10. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 400 F.Supp.2d 707.
  11. 90% of the section on intelligent design was from the ACLU's briefs. A Comparison of Judge Jones’ Opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover with Plaintiffs’ Proposed “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law”, by David DeWolf & John West, Discovery Institute, December 12, 2006 [9]
  12. Kitzmiller, 400 F. Supp. 2d at 725 (coming to the conclusion reached in Selman by the Court's own reasoning), compare Selman v. Cobb County Sch. Dist, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 13005 (11th Cir. May 25, 2006) at *pincite needed*.
  13. See 42 U.S.C. s 1988 (describing relief afforded victorious plaintiff of a 1983 action as including attorney fees).
  14. See Essay:Boy Scouts Rout ACLU
  15. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=55983
  16. Ibid.
  17. http://www.aclu.org/lgbt/youth/28618prs20070221.html
  18. Straights & Gays for Equality v. Osseo Area Schs., 471 F.3d 908 (8th Cir. 2006).
  19. During a question-and-answer session after a speech at Yale University, ACLU president Nadine Strossen stated that her organization has "defended the right of individuals to engage in polygamy," World Net Daily June 25, 2005
  20. The ACLU views freedom of religion and the establishment clause as inseparable: In order for people to have religious freedom, their government must neither endorse nor prohibit any religious position.ACLU press release July 16 1999.
  21. ACLU DEFENDS CONTROVERSIAL SPEECH IN PUBLIC SCHOOL: Amicus Brief in Harper v. Poway Unified School District
  22. Wendy Kaminer, "The American Liberal Liberties Union," Wall Street Journal (May 23, 2007).
  23. http://openweb.tvnews.vanderbilt.edu/1978-2/1978-02-23-NBC-6.html
  24. http://www.acluprocon.org/ACLUHistory/HistoryTable.html
  25. http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/gen/33697prs20080116.html
  26. http://sidesplitters.catastrophe.net/arch/2002/www.ageofconsent.com/comments/numberfortytwo.htm
  27. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0DE0D91530F932A3575AC0A9669C8B63
  28. http://www.mediacoalition.org/legal/copa/index.htm
  29. http://www.comm.unt.edu/faculty/terminiello_v.htm
  30. http://www.aclu.org/studentsrights/expression/12808pub19941231.html
  31. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=548951&page=1
  32. http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Mar-05-Sun-2006/news/6197557.html
  33. ACLU: Appeals Court Overturns Ban on Christian Preacher in Rhode Island Prison (4/9/2007)[10]
  34. ACLU: After ACLU Intervention on Behalf of Christian Valedictorian, Michigan High School Agrees to Stop Censoring Religious Yearbook Entries (5/11/2004) [11]
  35. The settlement between the ALCU and the school district stated:
    • The district will place a sticker with Moler's original entry in the copies of the yearbook on file with the school.
    • The district has instructed the Stevenson High School yearbook staff not to censor students' yearbook entries solely because they contain religious or political speech that others might find offensive.
    • The district recently provided and will continue to provide in-service training and advice to school staff on free speech and religious freedom issues that arise in school.
    • The district will write a letter of regret to Moler apologizing for the failure to include her entry in the yearbook.
  36. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,108140,00.html
  37. The Volokh Conspiracy (blog entry), Eugene Volokh, September 7, 2005 [12]

External Links