ACLU - Good and Bad

I’m not sure if you can attribute the following to the ACLU so maybe I’m using the org. too generically. Still, I think you’ll get the idea.

I’m having a hard time weighng the good (arguably limiting intrusions into our library records) with the bad (defending the “rights” of even the most outrageous child molestors).

Without debating specific issues too much … what do they get right and what do they get wrong?

If you ask me, both of those are things they get right. If you only defend the rights of the folks you like, then you don’t much believe in rights, do you? You believe in passing out favors to your friends.

I’m not at all fond of their stance on campaign finance reform, however. That’s something that I think they get wrong.


What right was being defended? The right to a fair trial?

All of us have certain rights, including
[li]the right to a fair trial[/li][li]the right nor to be subject to crual or unusual punishment[/li][li]the right to be protected by the police from vigilante action[/li][/ul]
Which of those rights would What the not give to “he most outrageous child molestors”?

You’ll have to explain why you think defending the rights of citizens is “bad.” Please read the Constitution first.


I think it’s generally agreed that the ACLU provides a meaningful service - that is, they get the general principle right (defending legal rights vigorously). They do so without much bias, protecting child molesters, the KKK, and other typically unpopular groups, as well as journalists, lawyers, and other typically popular groups (okay, maybe not lawyers :stuck_out_tongue: ).

Many people have issues with their very broad interpretation of separation of church and state, but that’s more of a philosophical debate (e.g. should the Constitution be interpreted strictly or loosely, a debate which I’m sure has raged on the boards since the Roberts nomination).

Many people also criticizing them for going after high-profile / controversial cases rather than the low-profile / obvious cases.

The ACLU gets the most flak because they dare to stand up for the underdogs.

I’m with Left Hand of Dorkness here. In fact, I’m a card carrying member of the ACLU. (OK, so the card they sent me is buried somewhere in the papers on my desk, but you get the point…)

I disagree with their stance on the 2nd Amendment (I’m not all that familiar with other specific positions). Nonetheless, I’ll go out of my way to support them, both financially and ideologically – the justice system is gamed enough against the little guy, IMHO.

The ACLU has no problems in reading the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments very braodly, construed so as to provide the highest possible freedom for the individual.

Yet when they read the Second Amendment, they read it in a very strict, narrow fashion. The Second Amendment is meant only to guarantee collective rights for the people, they say, not individual rights to a person.

Now, that view may well be true, but it’s dramatically at odds with their method of interpreting the rest of the Constitution.

Accordingly, I think they’re hypocrites.

The Second is itself dramatically at odds with the way the rest of the Constitution was written, in that it specifies the reason for its existence while the other parts generally don’t. Isn’t the ACLU simply reading the document as it was written, like good textualists or originalists should want it to be?

What the, if child molesters shouldn’t have legal rights, is there anyone else who shouldn’t? Where do you draw the line? The ACLU recognizes that you can’t and shouldn’t draw one - rights are for everyone or they aren’t rights at all. They could perhaps do a better job of setting priorities, but they do keep the subject under discussion and therefore alive.

Am I also a hypocrite for interpreting the Constitution as they do?

Their interpretation is pretty common, actually. How many folks are you willing to brand hypocrites based on this issue?


To me, hypocrisy means saying one thing and doing another. So it would be hypocritical for the ACLU to say it believes in some rights, but then not support those rights for some class of people. You might say that the ACLU is inconsistent in its interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, but it’s not being hypocritical, because it’s not saying that it means one thing, then acting in a way inconsitent with that. But if it said “Everyone has certain rights”, but then did not defend those rights for Nazis and for sex offenders, that would be hypocritical.

Indeed. The idea that the ACLU secretly believes that the Constitution protects individual firearm ownership, but hopes nobody ever finds out, is pretty ludicrous.


Could you give us more details about that? I didn’t know the ACLU had any position on CFR. (As with the 2nd Amendment, one might expect an organization with their philosophy to come down on either side of the issue for different reasons.)

Sorry …

I didn’t mean to suggest that alleged child molestors have no rights at all … but recently there was a story in the news about a convicted (three times I think) child molestor in Indiana who was assisted by the ACLU to regain the “right” to go to a public park for the express purpose of fantasizing about kids there.

Also the ACLU and NAMBLA are often linked. Surely they go overboard in their defense of that organization.

  1. Cite?
  2. So what?
  1. Cite?
  2. So what?


Yeah, hypocrite was a pretty foolish characterization.

Here’s what I should say:

The ACLU’s interpretation of the Bill of Rights is inconsistent.

They (well, “we” I guess. I’m a member) get the most flak for standing up for scum-sucking horrors. Not “underdogs” (which implies, at least, moral neutrality) But the absolute dregs of humanity. The ones who deeply, deeply tempt us to ignore and subvert the law in order to get them.

Here is further info on the Lafayette case …

As for NAMBLA, the ACLU is well known for defending their right of free speech to publish the things they do.

So what? Is society as a whole truly better off when the ACLU defends even the most outrageous acts? Is the slippery slope that slippery?

You do know who AIM is, don’t you? I am not saying that their description of the case is necessarily incorrect…but I wouldn’t mind seeing a description from a less biased source.