Why would the ACLU be involved in a civil defamation trial. From Jonathan Turley at jonathanturley.org:
In yesterday’s massive defamation award to actor Johnny Depp, his ex-wife Amber Heard was left holding a bill for $15,000,000. Even after a reduction for her own award and a statutory reduction of the punitive damage portion, Heard is still looking at $8,350,000 in damages. Many view that amount (which is $1.35 million more than her divorce settlement) to be justified in light of the damage caused to Depp’s reputation and career. However, the stain of this verdict should be shared with others, even if they avoided the sting of actual damages. That includes many in the media (including the Washington Post staff) who rushed to paint Heard as a victim and Depp as an abuser. Yet, the greatest condemnation should be reserved for the organization that not only pushed that narrative but actually helped draft the defamatory column: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The ACLU’s role in this scandal emerged during the trial. While Heard was accused of reneging on her public pledge to give the divorce settlement to charity, she did give a large donation to the ACLU. The organization then made her “Ambassador for women’s rights, with a focus on gender-based violence.”
During the trial, evidence was introduced on how the ACLU staff helped Heard crafted the defamatory column. ACLU staffer Robin Shulman said in an email to Heard that she tried to capture Heard’s “fire and rage” in a draft. It was also reported that the ACLU’s executive director, Anthony Romero, and legal director, David Cole, also made contributions.
What do you expect from an organization that read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution and consequently won’t fight for gun rights? From Glenn Greenwald at greenwald.substack.com:
In a New York Times op-ed this week, the group completely reversed its views, arguing vaccine mandates help civil liberties and bodily autonomy “is not absolute.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) surprised even many of its harshest critics this week when it strongly defended coercive programs and other mandates from the state in the name of fighting COVID. “Far from compromising them, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties,” its Twitter account announced, adding that “vaccine requirements also safeguard those whose work involves regular exposure to the public.”
If you were surprised to see the ACLU heralding the civil liberties imperatives of “vaccine mandates” and “vaccine requirements” — whereby the government coerces adults to inject medicine into their own bodies that they do not want — the New York Times op-ed which the group promoted, written by two of its senior lawyers, was even more extreme. The article begins with this rhetorical question: “Do vaccine mandates violate civil liberties?” Noting that “some who have refused vaccination claim as much,” the ACLU lawyers say: “we disagree.” The op-ed then examines various civil liberties objections to mandates and state coercion — little things like, you know, bodily autonomy and freedom to choose — and the ACLU officials then invoke one authoritarian cliche after the next (“these rights are not absolute”) to sweep aside such civil liberties concerns:
[W]hen it comes to Covid-19, all considerations point in the same direction. . . . In fact, far from compromising civil liberties, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties. . . . .
[Many claim that] vaccines are a justifiable intrusion on autonomy and bodily integrity. That may sound ominous, because we all have the fundamental right to bodily integrity and to make our own health care decisions. But these rights are not absolute. They do not include the right to inflict harm on others. . . . While vaccine mandates are not always permissible, they rarely run afoul of civil liberties when they involve highly infectious and devastating diseases like Covid-19. . . .
While limited exceptions are necessary, most people can be required to be vaccinated. . . . . Where a vaccine is not medically contraindicated, however, avoiding a deadly threat to the public health typically outweighs personal autonomy and individual freedom.
The ACLU could plausibly have opposed Brett Kavanaugh on the grounds that he’s weak on civil liberties. Instead, it argued that the presumption of innocence should be thrown out, Ford believed, and Kavanaugh rejected. From Alan M. Dershowitz at gatestoneinstitute.org:
So why did the American Civil Liberties Union oppose a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court and argue for a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against that judicial nominee? The answer is as clear as it is simple. It is all about pleasing the donors. The ACLU used to be cash poor but principle-rich. Now, ironically, after Trump taking office, the ACLU has never become so cash-rich, yet principle-poor.
The problem is that most of the money is not coming from civil libertarians who care about free speech, due process, the rights of the accused and defending the unpopular. It is coming from radical leftists in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and other areas not known for a deep commitment to civil liberties.
The old ACLU would never have been silent when Michael Cohen’s office was raided by the FBI and his clients’ files seized; it would have yelled foul when students accused of sexual misconduct were tried by kangaroo courts; and it surely would have argued against a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against a judicial nominee.
When the ACLU’s national political director and former Democratic Party operative Faiz Shakir was asked why the ACLU got involved in the Kavanaugh confirmation fight, he freely admitted, “People have funded us and I think they expect a return.”
President Trump greeting Brett Kavanaugh and his family. Why did the American Civil Liberties Union oppose a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court and argue for a presumption of guilt regarding sexual allegations directed against him? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Now that Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed, it is appropriate to look at the damage caused by the highly partisan confirmation process. Among the casualties has been an organization I have long admired.
From now on, it looks like the ACLU will sort of kind of defend free speech, as long as that speech doesn’t piss off the wrong people. From Robby Soave at reason.com:
The American Civil Liberties Union will weigh its interest in protecting the First Amendment against its other commitments to social justice, racial equality, and women’s rights, given the possibility that offensive speech might undermine ACLU goals.
“Our defense of speech may have a greater or lesser harmful impact on the equality and justice work to which we are also committed,” wrote ACLU staffers in a confidential memoobtained by former board member Wendy Kaminer.
It’s hard to see this as anything other than a cowardly retreat from a full-throated defense of the First Amendment. Moving forward, when deciding whether to take a free speech case, the organization will consider “factors such as the (present and historical) context of the proposed speech; the potential effect on marginalized communities; the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values; and the structural and power inequalities in the community in which the speech will occur.”
The memo’s authors assert that this does not amount to a formal change in policy, and is merely intended as guidelines that will assist ACLU affiliates in deciding which cases to take.
Kaminer, though, sees the memo as yet more evidence that the ACLU “has already lost its zeal for vigorously defending the speech it hates.” As she writes in The Wall Street Journal:
The speech-case guidelines reflect a demotion of free speech in the ACLU’s hierarchy of values. Their vague references to the “serious harm” to “marginalized” people occasioned by speech can easily include the presumed psychological effects of racist or otherwise hateful speech, which is constitutionally protected but contrary to ACLU values. Faced with perceived conflicts between freedom of speech and “progress toward equality,” the ACLU is likely to choose equality. If the Supreme Court adopted the ACLU’s balancing test, it would greatly expand government power to restrict speech.
Many people parted company with the ACLU when it read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution. Now, it’s but a politically correct shadow of its former self. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:
There are many signs of American collapse. One of the most scary is the fact that the American Civil Liberties Union no longer knows what are the civil liberties it purports to defend. Identity Politics has transformed civil rights into privileges for victim groups.
Yesterday (February 22, 2018) I received a 50-state survey from the ACLU. The envelope in which the questionnaire arrived said the survey was about how “to protect civil liberties during the Trump Presidency.” However, the survey (essentially a fundraiser) did not mention a single civil liberty contained in the Bill of Rights and added as amendments to the US Constitution.
Nothing about the sweeping away by the criminal Bush regime of habeas corpus with indefinite detention. No mention of the criminal Obama regime’s kill list, which swept away due process by executing US citizens on allegation alone without trial, evidence, and conviction. Nothing about the sweeping away by both criminal regimes of the prohibition against spying on citizens without warrants. No mention of the shutdown of free speech and protest or of the destruction of civil liberties by unaccountable police who brutalize, rob, and murder Americans at will.
In place of civil liberties, the ACLU has Identity Politics. The ACLU “civil rights” survey is concerned with the civil rights of illegal aliens, of women to have abortions and publicly financed birth control, the “fundamental rights of LGBT people,” and Muslim bans. The civil liberties listed in the Constitution do not qualify for concern; only invented rights that are not listed in the Bill of Rights.
The letter accompanying the questionnaire does mention the First Amendment and suppression of free speech “emanating from the White House.” I mean, really, the Bush and Obama regimes decimated free speech and imprisoned whistleblowers. Julian Assange has been imprisoned for years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for publishing leaked material revealing criminal and deceitful behavior of the US government. By the time of Trump’s election, the First Amendment was a dead letter civil right.
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