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.
After Politico reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was spending more than $1 million to oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, I checked the ACLU website to see if its core mission had changed — if the ACLU had now officially abandoned its non-partisan nature and become yet another Democratic super PAC. But no, the ACLU still claims it is “non-partisan.”
So why did the ACLU 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. Before Donald Trump was elected President, the ACLU had an annual operating budget of $60 million dollars. When I was on the ACLU National Board, it was a fraction of that amount. Today it is flush with cash, with net assets of over $450 million dollars. As the ACLU itself admitted in its annual report ending 2017, it received “unprecedented donations” after President Trump’s election. Unprecedented” it truly has been: the ACLU received $120 million dollars from online donations alone (up from $3-5 million during the Obama years).
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. To its everlasting disgrace, the ACLU is abandoning its mission in order to follow the money. It now spends millions of dollars on TV ads that are indistinguishable from left wing organizations, such as MoveOn, the Democratic National Committee and other partisan groups.
As the New Yorker reported on the ACLU’s “reinvention in the Trump era,”
“In this midterm year…as progressive groups have mushroomed and grown more active, and as liberal billionaires such as Howard Schultz and Tom Steyer have begun to imagine themselves as political heroes and eye Presidential runs, the A.C.L.U., itself newly flush, has begun to an active role in elections. The group has plans to spend more than twenty-five million dollars on races and ballot initiatives by [Midterm] Election Day, in November. Anthony Romero, the group’s executive director, told me, ‘It used to be that, when I had a referendum I really cared about, I could spend fifty thousand dollars.’”
This new strategy can be seen in many of the ACLU’s actions, which would have been inconceivable just a few years ago. 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.
Everything the ACLU does today seems to be a function of its fundraising. To be sure, it must occasionally defend a Nazi, a white supremacist, or even a mainstream conservative. But that is not its priority these days, either financially or emotionally. Its heart and soul are in its wallet and checkbook. It is getting rich while civil liberties are suffering.
There appears to be a direct correlation between the ACLU’s fundraising and its priorities. 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.” Its funders applaud the result because many of these mega donors could not care less about genuine civil liberties or due process. What they care about are political results: more left-wing Democrats in Congress, fewer conservative justices on the Supreme Court and more money in the ACLU coffers.
When I served both on the National and Massachusetts Boards of the American Civil Liberties Union, board members included conservative Republicans, old line Brahmans, religious ministers, schoolteachers, labor union leaders and a range of ordinary folks who cared deeply about core civil liberties. The discussions were never partisan. They always focused on the Bill of Rights. There were considerable disagreements about whether various amendments covered the conduct at issue. But no one ever introduced the question of whether taking a position would help the Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, Jews or Catholics or any other identifiable group. We cared about applying the constitution fairly to everyone, without regard to the political consequences.
As the New Yorker described these more innocent times: the ACLU “… has been fastidiously nonpartisan, so prudish about any alliance with political power that its leadership, in the nineteen-eighties and nineties, declined even to give awards to like-minded legislators for fear that it might give the wrong impression.”
Those days are now gone. Instead we have a variant on the question my immigrant grandmother asked when I told her the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series in 1955: “Yeah, but, vuz it good or bad for the Jews?” My Grandmother was a strong advocate of identity politics: all she cared about was the Jews. That was 63 years ago. The questions being asked today by ACLU board members is: is it good or bad for the left, is it good or bad for Democrats, is it good or bad for women, is it good or bad for people of color, is it good or bad for gays?
These are reasonable questions to be asked by groups dedicated to the welfare of these groups but not by a group purportedly dedicated to civil liberties for all. A true civil libertarian transcends identity politics and cares about the civil liberties of one’s political enemies because he or she recognizes that this is the only way that civil liberties for everyone will be preserved.
Today, too few people are asking: Is it good or bad for civil liberties?
Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute
Netanyahu’s support for the settlement enterprise, is believed to have been reigned by former democratic US president Barack Obama who was in office from January 2009 to January 2017.
A man photographs a woman as she stands next to a mural depicting U.S. President Donald Trump and Is
Spending on West Bank settlements spiked by 39% in 2017, the first year US President Donald Trump was in office, the left-wing group Peace Now reported on Tuesday.
Weekend work permits for Eurovision complicate Netanyahu’s coalition bargaining with ultra-Orthodox parties
Israeli singer and past Eurovision winner Dana International at the Orange Carpet event in Tel Aviv, May 13, 2019.
Israeli singer and past Eurovision winner Dana International at the Orange Carpet event in Tel Aviv, May 13, 2019.Tomer Appelbaum
Seeking to quell ultra-Orthodox anger over holding the Eurovision Song Contest’s final in Tel Aviv on Saturday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday it was an “individual international event” not sponsored by the state, and that the government doesn’t want to violate the Sabbath.
French Holocaust denier Alain Soral. Photo: Egalite et Réconciliation.
The mayor of one of southern France’s most picturesque towns expressed fury on Tuesday after learning that a group of right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists — including convicted Holocaust denier Alain Soral — were planning to hold a “summer school” there at the end of August.
“I say it clearly, Soral is not welcome here,” Alexandre Reynal — mayor of the town of Amelie-les-Bain in the spectacular Pyrénées-Orientales region — told a local news outlet on Tuesday.
I urge all visitors to join me in a conspiracy to violate the UN Security Council Resolution…Obama, himself, engineered the Resolution. He pushed it through the Security Council despite some reservations by other members, including Egypt, which believed that the Resolution itself could become a barrier to a negotiated two-state solution. After all, if Israel’s control over Judaism’s holiest site is deemed illegal, then Israel would have to negotiate its legality with the Palestinians.
The ruling Law and Justice Party views Poland as a victim of World War II, and that therefore Poland should not be required to pay damages to other victims.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reacts after receiving his nomination during a government s
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reacts after receiving his nomination during a government swearing-in ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, December 11, 2017..
Only three-quarters of a century after Der Stürmer incentivized the mass murder of Jews by dehumanizing them, we see a revival of such bigoted caricatures.
I do not believe in free speech for me, but not for thee. But I do believe in condemning those who hide behind the First Amendment to express anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, homophobic, sexist or racist views.
One of the most influential newspapers in the world, the Jewish-owned New York Times decided to present the Jews with a gift in honor of the last day of Passover – a major Jewish holiday – an antisemitic caricature. The controversial cartoon shows US President Donald Trump as a blind man with a skullcap on his head, being led by a dog that looks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And to make sure the reader knows it is indeed the Israeli premier, the dog has a Star of David dangling from its collar.
Last week, Jared Kushner, one of the administration’s point men on the Middle East, dispensed with the term “two-state solution” in its impending peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. “The two-state solution has failed,” he said.
The “two-state solution” does not appear in the 1993 Oslo Accords, which called only for “interim self-government” for the Palestinians. The goal was a negotiated final status agreement, in which independence was not specified.
Religious fervor always picks up before the Jewish holidays. Not surprisingly, Israeli undercover police arrested Jewish activists from the Hozrim L’Har (Returning to the Mount) organization early Friday afternoon, just before the onset of the Passover holiday, after an apparent attempt to bring a young goat on to the Temple Mount for a self-proclaimed sacrificial rite. Indeed, this drama plays itself out every year, but according to Jerusalem police, this year a record of at least twelve members of the organization were arrested throughout the course of the day on counts of disturbing the peace.
Every year when Passover eve arrives, I do my best not to think about that night; to allow the joy of cherished rituals meant to renew our family’s tribal history and faith envelop us in its warm glow as whoever among the kids and grandkids it’s our turn to host partake of the matzoh, bitter herbs, and wine. Often – actually most often – I succeed.