The American Civil Liberties Union has decided to take a new approach in deciding what free speech cases it will take on based on their potential “effect on marginalized communities,” according to leaked documents.
The eight page memo, created by a joint committee of national ACLU staff and legal directors, was obtained by The Wall Street Journal’s Wendy Kaminer on Wednesday. The memo says their fight to protect the First Amendment can conflict with company policies at times.
“Work to protect speech rights may raise tensions with racial justice, reproductive freedom, or a myriad of other rights, where the content of the speech we seek to protect conflicts with our policies on those matters,” the memo states.
The ACLU’s desire to update their case selection guidelines arises from the backlash they received by defending white nationalist rioters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in summer 2017. (RELATED: The ACLU Betrays America)
The memo lists multiple areas of consideration that employees must account for before taking on a free speech case.
“Our defense of speech may have a greater or lesser harmful impact on the equality and justice work to which we are also committed, depending on factors such as the content of the proposed speech [and] the potential effect on marginalized communities,” the memo reads.
Other examples of consideration include whether the speakers seek to carry weapons and whether the speaker seeks to engage in or promote violence.
The memo notes that this is not an official policy change but rather a set of guidelines that can help mitigate harms to competing interests.
Kaminer points out, however, that these memos were meant to be confidential.
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