Censorship

Liberals vs. Free Speech: ACLU Edition

|

The New York Sun's Joseph Goldstein reports that liberal anger over last week's landmark free speech decision in Citizens United v. F.E.C. exploded over the weekend at the ACLU's quarterly board meeting. The ACLU, of course, sided with the First Amendment in the case and filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the conservative group Citizens United. As Goldstein notes, some liberals now want the organization to abandon its position:

"The ACLU's version of democracy is from the ground-up," one civil rights lawyer, David Gans, on Saturday told the ACLU's board, which was assembled downtown at One New York Plaza. "Now Exxon Mobil can spend 2% of its money and blow that all up."

Mr. Gans was one of several attorneys invited to the board meeting to debate whether the ACLU should change its position on money in politics. Another, Burt Neuborne, also urged the ACLU to change its policy, saying that any effort to salvage campaign finance regulation in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling would face trouble "if the ACLU says it's against the First Amendment."

But a contrary view was expressed by another one of the invited attorneys, Floyd Abrams, who was one of the lawyers for the victorious side in Citizen's United and who yesterday urged the ACLU not to change its position. Mr. Abrams warned that the organization would be allowing its political sensibilities to get the best of its principles.

"The worst thing you could do—the absolutely worst thing you could do—is transform a civil liberties organization into a liberal political organization," Mr. Abrams, one of the most famous First Amendment lawyers in the country, told the board.

Read the rest here.

NEXT: Obama Uses Teleprompter While Talking to Sixth Graders

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Perhaps one of our progressive friends can explain this to me. You see, I figure if Exxon Mobil runs an ad in favor of a given candidate, said candidate is automatically and irrevocably tarred as a “shill for Big Oil”. Which he may or may not be. In any case, this will benefit his opponent, no doubt a good progressive, will it not? So what is all the caterwauling about?

    Besides, it’s not as if ads from political entities–say, the DNC or the RNC–are one bit more honest or one bit less misleading.

    1. What part of Exxon Mobil is bad don’t you understand?

  2. This will be entertaining. Money vs principles, who will win?

    1. Do you really have to ask?

  3. “The worst thing you could do?the absolutely worst thing you could do?is transform a civil liberties organization into a liberal political organization,” Mr. Abrams, one of the most famous First Amendment lawyers in the country, told the board.

    Wait. Which ACLU is Abrams talking about? It can’t be the Americans for Civil Liberties.

    Acronym contest: what *should* the ACLU stand for now?

    I’m going with Anal Crimpage in Liberal Underwear

    1. Crap. Add “Union” and drop “for” as needed. Stupid brain.

  4. “The ACLU’s version of democracy is from the ground-up,”

    Funny, I thought the ACLU was supposed to be about defending civil liberties, not promoting democracy from the ground up.

    1. Have they ever supported the individual right to keep and bear arms?

  5. Well that was an unexpected happy.

  6. “The worst thing you could do?the absolutely worst thing you could do?is transform a civil liberties organization into a liberal political organization,”

    I am not, by any means, a foaming-at-the-mouth ACLU hater, but that train left the station some time ago, didn’t it?

    1. For realsies. But I do enjoy seeing them fight over it now that it’s about something at least some of them care about (i.e., not guns).

    2. Beat me to that comment, PB.

  7. “Now Exxon Mobil can spend 2% of its money and blow that all up.”

    So can the corporate-owned New York Times, Washington Post, and MSNBC.

    1. Not to mention the AFL-CIO, NEA, UAW etc.

      1. Not to mention the candidates themselves…

  8. if Exxon Mobil runs an ad in favor of a given candidate, said candidate is automatically and irrevocably tarred as a “shill for Big Oil”.

    I’m not sure support for a specific candidate or party is necessary.

    I think an ad paid for by EXXON which says, “Congress wants to make you pay more at the pump” would be more likely. And I have no problem with that.

    1. Companies and lobbying groups runs print ads like that in the WaPo’s “A” section all the time.

      I must have missed the cascading failure of civilization that resulted from those ads.

      1. That’s basically where I was going with this. I don’t know anybody who automatically does everything that ads tell them to. And I know some pretty dumb people.

        1. The opponents of the SCOTUS decision here seem to implicitly be suggesting that we’re all idiotic dupes who are programmed to buy and believe everything we see on TV – particularly in the case of political ads.

          To me, that says more about them than about the average informed, well-adjusted, commercially savvy consumer who is bombarded with advertising thousands of times per day and somehow learns to disentangle all of that super complex information about cleaners, loans, lawyers, food and politicians.

          In other words, lefties, CHILL OUT. Most of use have developed decent BS detectors as a result of living in the consumer-driven society. This means that we process information and integrate it into a larger whole – we don’t just simply have knee-jerk emotional reactions to it.

          But we’re just stupid idiots who don’t know any better, though. So I guess the government/left wing is right here. Just because.

          Must. Vote. Democrat.

  9. The ACLU, of course, sided with the First Amendment in the case and filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the conservative group Citizens United.

    I had to read that five times to see if it was a very subtle joke.

  10. Shouldn’t the title of this post be “ACLU Liberals against free speech vs. ACLU Liberals in favor of free speech”? Were you one of the attorneys who won Citizens United, Damon?

  11. Damn commies! Oh, wait…

  12. Companies and lobbying groups runs print ads like that in the WaPo’s “A” section all the time. I must have missed the cascading failure of civilization that resulted from those ads.

    The real audience for the Post, just like the Sunday shows, is the “newsmakers” themselves. Those corporate image and lobbying ads are for them, not us.

    So we’re in that failure cascade right now.

  13. It wasn’t my impression that the ACLU had become a shill for Team Blue. Can anyone cite a case where they have come down for a Progressive ruling/bill and against a civil liberty/

    1. “Can anyone cite a case where they have come down for a Progressive ruling/bill and against a civil liberty/”

      Allow me to introduce you to the 2nd amendment…

    2. Well, the ACLU’s support for blatantly unconstitutional racial set asides at universities would seem to fit that bill. Unless of course you think being discriminated against by an organ of the state is not a violation of someone’s civil liberties.

  14. What’s with the ACLU hate?

    As the left claims to be the champions of civil liberties (whether they are or not…) just as the right claims to be the champions of economic liberties (whether they are or not…) the ACLU is bound to find itself staffed by more lefty types.

    While there are many battles they *should* be in that they aren’t (gun rights), I’ve never known them to be on the wrong side of a fight when it came to civil liberties. In fact, short of Radley Balko they’re the only other consistant source I know of on police/government over-reach, especially with regard to the 1st&4th; ammendment.

    Can anyone point out to me when they were actively against the side of civil liberties?

    1. As I mentioned in a comment above this, they support racial discrimination in the form of quotas, or as they like to call it “affirmative action”. They have made it a mission of theirs to smear Ward Connerly and have even done so on The Daily Kos (but they couldn’t possibly be leftists). They have been on the wrong side of every single case brought against public universities that think it is fair to given someone an advantage on admissions simply because of the color of their skin. Sounds kind of discriminatory to me.

      They also continue to support racial gerrymandering of voting districts, an idea that should have been retired as unconstitutional ages ago.

      I don’t know what your view is, but discrimination perpetrated by the state, even if the victim is white, is a violation of our liberties, whether shills of the ACLU want to admit it or not.

  15. floyd abrams is the fuckin’ man.

  16. How does an ACLU supporter count to 10?

    1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

  17. There is one logically consistent position the ACLU can adopt which would both remain true to the First Amendment and regain the trust of those who believe corporate influence over the political process spells the doom of our democracy:

          Corporate personhood is constitutionally illegitimate.

    This position both preserves the ACLU’s adherence to principle and recognizes the fact that unrestrained corporate influence is fundamentally antagonistic to the social contract and cannot be allowed if our nation is to survive as a democracy (or even as a democratic republic, for you nitpickers).

  18. truth,,,,obama people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led.”
    “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”
    “All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it.”
    “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”pelosi don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities …obama feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance … everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold TOGTHER.They include the angry left wing bloggers who spread vicious lies and half-truths about their political adversaries… Those lies are then repeated by the duplicitous left wing media outlets who “discuss” the nonsense on air as if it has merit? The media’s justification is apparently “because it’s out there”, truth be damned. STOP THIS COMMUNIST OBAMA ,GOD HELP US ALL .THE COMMANDER ((GOD OPEN YOUR EYES)) stop the communist obama & pelosi.((open you eyes)) ,the commander

  19. truth,,,,obama people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led.”
    “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”
    “All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it.”
    “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”pelosi don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities …obama feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance … everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold TOGTHER.They include the angry left wing bloggers who spread vicious lies and half-truths about their political adversaries… Those lies are then repeated by the duplicitous left wing media outlets who “discuss” the nonsense on air as if it has merit? The media’s justification is apparently “because it’s out there”, truth be damned. STOP THIS COMMUNIST OBAMA ,GOD HELP US ALL .THE COMMANDER ((GOD OPEN YOUR EYES)) stop the communist obama & pelosi.((open you eyes)) ,the commander

  20. truth,,,,obama people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led.”
    “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”
    “All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it.”
    “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”pelosi don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities …obama feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance … everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold TOGTHER.They include the angry left wing bloggers who spread vicious lies and half-truths about their political adversaries… Those lies are then repeated by the duplicitous left wing media outlets who “discuss” the nonsense on air as if it has merit? The media’s justification is apparently “because it’s out there”, truth be damned. STOP THIS COMMUNIST OBAMA ,GOD HELP US ALL .THE COMMANDER ((GOD OPEN YOUR EYES)) stop the communist obama & pelosi.((open you eyes)) ,the commander

  21. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz books series either as collectible or investment at http://www.RareOzBooks.com.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.