civil liberties

Why Is the ACLU Supporting In Prop 8 Suit?

Thought the ACLU was just an extension, or a repetitive megaphone, of Gay Inc.? Wrong. This organization just wants your civil liberties protected, no matter which side of the gay debate your on. And this time, they’re siding with Prop 8’s supporters.

As Perry v. Schwarzenegger makes its way through Judge Vaughn Walker’s court (trial begins Jan. 11), anti-equality group Protect Marriage/Yes On 8 — which tried and failed to have the suit dimissed — is trying to keep its internal campaign documents a secret. Judge Walked demanded those emails and memos be turned over to plaintiffs, who want to show the Prop 8 push was based in bigotry as they try to prove the ballot measure was based in discrimination.

And while the ACLU supports the federal Perry challenge, it’s also siding with Protect Marriage and attorney Charles Cooper (pictured). To protect free speech.

The ACLU’s Northern California chapter, which supports the lawsuit, nevertheless filed arguments with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saying the court-ordered disclosure could endanger people’s freedom to speak freely while planning political campaigns.

“Political advocacy and strategizing is inherently rough and tumble,” the ACLU told the court, which accepted the filing Tuesday shortly before hearing arguments in Pasadena on the disclosure issue.

“The people charged with running those campaigns cannot do so effectively while fearing that every proposal they float, every crazy idea they shoot down … will ultimately become fodder for their opponents,” said Stephen Bomse, a San Francisco attorney who represented the ACLU.

He also said Prop. 8’s backers have demanded similar campaign documents from the ACLU, which opposed the ballot measure.

Cooper’s, meanwhile, have taken the fight to keep the records secret to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, trying to block Walker’s demand they turn over the documents.

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  • FakeName

    Another wildly inaccurate headline. The ACLU, as the saying goes, has one client: the Constitution of the United States of America. Their actions here (as you note in the body of the story) are not in defense of the anti-marriage bigots but in defense of the rights of every American.

  • Same Crap

    The ACLU doesn’t select its clients based on how popular or sympathetic they are. It has defended the rights of the KKK, Neo-Nazi groups, even Rush Limbaugh.

  • Baron Rupprecht

    The ACLU has also defended the right of non-americans, kinda messed up. i wish they would get their heads on straight and realize for the constitution to apply, there are requirements, like being a citizen or a refugee

  • FakeName

    The Constitution applies to anyone under the jurisdiction of the United States whether that person is a citizen or not (that’s overly simplified, but basically correct).

  • PopSnap

    They’re not. They’d be sticking up for us too if they got the chance. ACLU is perhaps one of the most “American” organizations out there. They represent one of the best parts of our country, and thats the right to hold unpopular views of be an unpopular person.

    They’ve protected us as well, MANY times.

  • Attmay

    The ACLU defended Neo-Nazis and the KKK. Fuck them.

    Some opinions are unpopular because they are pure evil. I’m all for free speech, but there comes a time when even the Constitution should take a back seat to simple human decency. If I were a lawyer I would never defend a Neo-Nazi, Klansman, or homophobe.

  • alex

    Regarding the prior comments: nice try, but it does not hold water.

    According to the ACLU, I guess even Hitler’s ranting would warrant their intervention and support….even if his ranting resulted in the extermination of MILLIONS of innocent people.

    The hell with the ACLU. I do not care how much aid they have given gay rights in the past. As far as I am concerned, you are with with us, or against us. I am past caring about anyone who says they support gay rights – some of the time.

    I will have one response to the ACLU when they come crawling for money: “F**K YOU.”

    I am cancelling my ACLU membership tomorrow.

    Sign me,

    “An American ALL of the time….not some of the time.”

  • Justin O.

    @Alex – The difference is that exterminating millions of people is not protected under the Constitution. As soon as I have some more disposable income, I’m going to get a membership to the ACLU to offset people like you who only support Constitutional freedoms when it benefits you.

  • FakeName

    Yes, if Hitler were in the United States and the government attempted to suppress his speech, the ACLU would step in to stop them. Given its involvement in the Skokie case, this shouldn’t be surprising to you.

    They would also fight like hell against any attempt to pack off Jews, gays or any other minority, just like they fought against Japanese internment in World War II. The ACLU’s involvement in this case has absolutely nothing to do with gay rights and everything to do with protecting the rights of political organizations to communicate internally.

    Canceling your membership over this case is a ridiculous kneejerk response to a situation you clearly know very little about.

  • Steve

    I am pretty sure the ACLU is wrong on this.

    “Discovery” of emails and other files during a civil suit is a completely ordinary part of the process. There is no essential difference between an email and a regular paper memo. Both are subject to discovery. No one is prevented from saying or writing anything. The possibility that something one writes might be produced in court is nothing new.

    Future political campaigns might want to buy a shredder for each office, and teach their people how and when to delete email. But that is no different from any other business. Most businesses and governments have document-retention policies that cover both paper and electronic documents.

  • FakeName

    Discovery is a normal part of the process but some documents are not subject to discovery. Material covered by attorney-client privilege, work product, etc. I don’t know the case law well enough to know whether the material the ACLU is trying to shield falls under an existing exception or whether its constitutional claims have merit.

  • alex

    Oh, wow. Deep thinkers like “Justin O.” and “FakeName” are giving lectures on the virtues of clarity of thought, and thorough research.

    The bigots in the marriage case who are fighting these disclosure requirements are resisting state law: a law passed by the Legislature, signed by the Governor, and repeatedly upheld by the courts. The law says that The People have every right to know who bankrolled Proposition 8’s campaign, and The People have every right to know whether Proposition 8’s supporters had clear intent to discriminate against a constitutionally-protected minority (per the State Supreme Court) when they conspired to pass that piece of crap.

    Justin, I am so happy to hear that readers like you are willing to monetarily support the organization that is trying to break state law, and that is giving support and advice to anti-gay organizations. The ACLU will continue to love guys like you: someone who will see the acronym “ACLU” and reach for his checkbook, without thinking about the millions of gay households around the nation who will be affected if we lose this federal marriage case.

    Now we get to rocket scientists like “FakeName”. What an appropriate name…..for someone who apparently is in favor of protecting the thousands of cowardly bigots who gave money to pass Proposition 8 and who now want to remain anonymous about it….in violation of state election law.

    Here is a news flash for “Fake”: I know clearly what the situation is about. I walked the walk during the Prop. 8 campaign, campaigned tirelessly, wrote letters, made phone calls, was threatened and physically assaulted by Christian bigots at rallies during the fall of 2008, and gave huge sums of money to defeat that proposition. I am not ashamed of my contributions, and I am proud that the Secretary of State has my name and occupation and amount donated in the state data bank….there for everyone to see. I have nothing to hide, and would do it again. I have nothing to regret, and am perfectly fine with the knowledge that every cowardly bigot in the State of California can find out what I contributed….even while they are trying like crazy to illegally keep their roles and their contributions anonymous, and their election communications concealed from the courts.

    So, tell me, Fake: what was YOUR contribution to gay civil rights in the autumn of 2008? Rather than criticize someone else’s involvement and knowledge of the issues surrounding Proposition 8, take a look at whatever role you played (or did not play) last year when California cut millions of gay citizens right out of the State Constitution….and maybe then you can take the time to analyze someone else’s understanding of the issue.

    If, last year, you did not vote, or write a check for “No on 8”, or stand with us on a street corner and go toe-to-toe with bigots who were intent on rewriting the State Constitution to only include and benefit themselves and their religion (did I get that right, Justin?), then I suggest you shut the hell up. You have no idea of what you are talking about.

    The cornerstone of Constitutional government is openness, and complete access to information that affects the People’s right to govern themselves. (Both of you guys might try reading James Madison.) If the People’s ability to govern themselves is hampered by secrecy and subterfuge, then laws should be (and have been) enacted to lift that veil of secrecy from the processes by which laws are enacted.

    The ACLU and the anti-gay bigots wish to circumvent those laws, and retain the veil of secrecy, and maintain the subterfuge. Their intent is very clear, and that is what I am opposed to. I am joined in this by every judge who has ruled on this issue so far, and they have ruled so for good reason.

    The ACLU wants to protect “the rights of political organizations to communicate internally”? “FakeName” must think we all are stupid. This has nothing to do with routine internal communications. I have less than no interest in what bigots email to each other, or Mormons, or Catholic bishops, or the ACLU. But I DO have an interest in knowing the intent, the donors, and the communications involved in a legal arena such as the elections process – especially when that process has been used to pass Prop. 8 and destroy constitutionally-guaranteed rights (again, per the State Supreme Court.) In fact, I have more than an interest in knowing…..I have a RIGHT to know. And I vigorously will fight any person or organization that tries to take that right away.

    A bigot has every legal right to his private beliefs in the privacy of his dark mind. He can shout his hatred from a street corner, for all anyone cares. But when bigotry uses the electoral process to foist his narrow beliefs and hatreds on the laws of the Republic and The People, and then tries to use clandestine methods to hide his campaign tactics and supporters from The People, then the courts have the responsibility to make sure that the public’s right to full disclosure of all the issues leading to an election has been fulfilled. And yes, that includes lists of all donors (for both sides) in a campaign, and all campaign communications.

    That is PARTICULARLY true in this singular case. Never once in the 200-year history of the American Republic has a Constitutionally-guaranteed right been taken away from a targeted group of citizens, by any means…until the passage of Proposition 8. That is quite an extraordinary event….a horrible one, and extraordinary.

    At such a moment, should the courts use every means available to make sure that the rights of a Constitutionally-protected minority (again, per the State Supreme Court) have not been illegally taken from them?

    You’re damn right the courts should. And, good for them if they insist upon it.

  • Justin O.

    While I appreciate the bitter personalizing of the attacks, Alex (I will do my best to refrain from responding in kind) the article linked in this story about the ACLU’s involvement only mentions the release of internal documents – memos, e-mails, and the like. I can’t for the life of find where it says anything about listing the names of donors. If you can point me to a news source that says the ACLU is actively trying to keep the list of donors hidden from public eyes, I would be happy to reconsider my position. Until then, I think I want to continue supporting an organization who has been supporting LGBT rights more consistently than some of the mainstream gay groups.

    And for the record:
    If, last year, you did not vote (Did that)
    or write a check for “No on 8” (that too)
    or stand with us on a street corner and go toe-to-toe with bigots who were intent on rewriting the State Constitution to only include and benefit themselves and their religion (yup, did that too, on several occasions)

  • Justin O.

    One more thing, Alex. I would argue that Japanese-American internment during World War II took away Constitutional rights from a targeted group of American citizens, as one example. I feel the pain of your sentiment, but hyperbole won’t get us anywhere. Neither will fighting each other or those groups who want the same things we want.

  • Flex

    I will never give one more dime to the ACLU. They can fuck off!

  • Justin O.

    What I don’t get is that people here were fine with the ACLU when they were defending child pornography, the KKK, and other things like that, but the second they do something a gay rights group doesn’t like, people will drop them. Glad to know people are being consistent.

  • FakeName

    Huh, I’m not sure how I missed the follow-up on this discussion, but anyway, Alex? You’re a fucking moron with the reading comprehension of a retarded raccoon. The issue here was not, as you wrongly claim over and over again, about getting the names of donors to Prop 8. The issue here, as is stated clearly in paragraph two of the story, is whether Yes on 8 has to release internal campaign documents. I would think that someone so up on the situation would know that.

    Alan sez: “Here is a news flash for “Fake”: I know clearly what the situation is about.”

    You know it so clearly that you wrote 14 paragraphs ranting about the wrong issue! Dumbass.

  • JeffreyRO5

    Very good point. There’s something very cowardly about voting to revoke a group’s legal right and then hiding in anonymity. If the judge has said his ruling will consider the animus that drove Proposition 8, how else can the plaintiffs prove animus without documents?

Comments are closed.