In 2018, Power Line noted that The ACLU had begun to secretly demote free speech:
The left bailed on free speech a while back. Everyone who has been paying attention knows this.
Less widely known is that the ACLU seems to be bailing too. So argues Wendy Kaminer, a former board member, in the Wall Street Journal.
Kaminer reports on new ACLU guidelines governing case selection and “Conflicts Between Competing Values or Priorities.” According to Kaminer, the guidelines are contained in a secret, internal document that wasn’t to be seen even by ACLU members. It was distributed to select ACLU officials and board members, who were instructed not to share it.
As portrayed by Kaminer, the guidelines suggest that, for today’s ACLU, free speech is just another “competing value or priority” to be balanced against others. Per the guidelines, in selecting speech cases to defend, the ACLU will now balance the “impact of the proposed speech and the impact of its suppression.” Factors like the potential effect of the speech on “marginalized communities” and even on “the ACLU’s credibility” could militate against taking a case.
Fundraising and communications officials helped formulate the new guidelines, according to Kaniner’s sources. These officials understand that free speech values do not appeal to the ACLU’s increasingly partisan leftist constituency, especially after the 2017 rally in Charlottesville.
Back in 2003, the late Steven Den Beste compared the ACLU with Amnesty International, after the latter forgot its original mission (remember those “to freedom!” ads that ran on MTV in the 1980s?) over how its members (read: fundraisers) viewed the Iraq War:
It’s not going too far to say that many of Amnesty International’s members have approximately as strongly negative of feelings now about America and George Bush as the ACLU’s members had about the Nazis when the ACLU defended them in Skokie.
The ACLU made the principled decision and weathered the downturn in contributions. When condemnation of Iraq didn’t make AI look as if it was aligning with America, Amnesty International was willing to try to shine a spotlight on the abuses there. But now AI has suddenly gone silent. The abuses against the citizens of Iraq have not stopped; indeed they’ve gotten worse. In addition to ongoing violent repression of Iraq’s civilian population, various Iraqi military and para-military units have been directly violating the Geneva Convention by, for instance, abusing the white flag of truce, and by using protected humanitarian facilities to hold military equipment, and by using “human shields” in combat, and by directly firing at refugees, and in numerous other ways.
And what we’re seeing is that AI seems unwilling to make more than oblique mention of these things, while at the same time explicitly condemning the US for what are at best minor transgressions by comparison. Why is it more important to strongly focus attention on “censorship” while ignoring mass slaughter of refugees?
In retrospect, Conquest’s second law of politics (“Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing”) dictates that it was only a matter of time before the ACLU would similarly lose the thread.
And they’re far from alone: