Just recently, a leaked internal American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) memo revealed that the organization is having discussions about whether to continue defending the free-speech rights of groups that oppose their progressive agenda.
The ACLU argues that they are not necessarily backing away from their defense of free-speech but rather making strategic choices in how to allocate its more-than $300 million in resources.
In fact, “strategic choices” likely refers less to scarce resources as much as “choices that will upset our progressive donors that want abortion on demand and open borders, but want free-speech rights of conservatives silenced.”
As the ACLU notes, “We do not have the capacity to take every case that has legal merit. We seek to bring select impact cases to defend and promote civil liberties and civil rights. In addition, although the government may not discriminate based on viewpoint, the ACLU as a private organization has a First Amendment right to act according to its own principles, organizational needs, and priorities.”
The ACLU affirming the rights of private organizations to “act according to its own principles, organizational needs, and priorities” is a particularly ironic statement if the last several years are any indication. Why? Because the ACLU doesn’t believe other organizations should have the same right (although they believe the Red Hen acted incorrectly, but not illegally, in kicking out Sarah Sanders).
For example, the ACLU does not believe that florists or bakers have a right to refuse to provide services for a gay wedding (even though those business owners have no issue providing services to gay individuals in general). In fact, the terminology the ACLU prefers is to say that religious liberty doesn’t give someone the “right to discriminate.”
Nor does the ACLU believe that Catholic hospitals have a right to refuse to commit abortions, even though opposition to abortion is longstanding Church doctrine. In fact, the ACLU believes they should be forced to commit abortions because of “reproductive freedom.”
When Hobby Lobby, the Little Sisters of the Poor and Notre Dame sought to be exempt from the so-called birth control mandate, the ACLU didn’t take their sides as private organizations but rather took the side of the federal government.
One might argue that nuns providing care to poor, elderly people would be the exact sort of oppressed ‘little guy’ the ACLU would defend, but instead, the ACLU argued that the heavy-hand of government should be brought in to force the nuns to pay for birth control.
The ACLU has, in the past several years, moved away from being an absolute defender of civil liberties and freedom of speech to just one more liberal, political group that wants to use the federal government to trample on the rights of conservatives and Christians.
For a long time, the ACLU has heralded itself as a defender of the oppressed against government overreach, but now it has shifted towards wanting to use the government, state and federal, to force florists and bakers to participate in gay weddings, to force Catholic hospitals to commit abortions and to force Catholic and Christian organizations to provide birth control that can cause abortions.
The ACLU would argue that in choosing which clients to represent, they are not backing away from their commitments but making decisions on the best ways to allocate resources, as well as making decisions that align best with the progressive politics of its supporters and donors.
And while the ACLU may claim these should be considered ‘strategic choices,’others may call it the ACLU’S right to discriminate.
Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America, which has more than 1,200 chapters on college and high school campuses in all 50 states.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.