The right to associate freely is a cherished American principle. Our freedom to join or leave groups who share a common viewpoint was guaranteed for posterity by the Founding Fathers under the First Amendment’s guarantees for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
Over the years, court rulings have further strengthened this seminal value. In 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in NAACP v. Alabama that states could not seize membership lists. In Hurley v. Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston (1995), involving the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Court clarified that a group does not have to open its activities to individuals who do not share the group’s particular social, religious, moral or political values.
The courts have clearly distinguished between invidious discrimination based on immutable characteristics such as race, which is illegal, and the legal right to associate or not associate with individuals based on common and/or opposing viewpoints.
Over the years, the ACLU and other liberal groups have vigorously attacked this fundamental American principle by insisting that government has the power to tell citizens, in their private lives, with whom they should and should not associate. Conservative groups are under increasing pressure to divulge the identities of their donors, members, and other supporters. Historically, when state courts or governments have inappropriately forced the disclosure of such names (even under sealed court orders that were later leaked), the individuals whose identities were disclosed were often harmed. Protagonists on the left have engaged in vehement protests, harassment, public and private haranguing, lawsuits, and even violence solely because of an individual’s affiliation with a particular group, or their perceived political, social, moral, religious or other viewpoints.
For instance, through multiple lawsuits, unlawful evictions, and corporate pressure, a vocal minority of atheists, homosexual activists and feminists assailed the Boy Scouts of America, finally forcing the organization in 2013 to agree to violate its own century-old moral code. The Scouts gave in despite having won for decades, with the help of the ACRU and others, every single lawsuit that had challenged the Scouts’ right as a private, voluntary organization to control its membership and the individuals that were entitled to such membership.
The battles continue. Militant liberals within federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service are targeting individuals and groups based on their political beliefs, a clear violation of our First Amendment freedoms of association and speech, as well as the right to petition one’s government for redress.
The ACRU is determined through public advocacy, legal action, and public outreach to defend the core principle of freedom of association against all those who want to twist the First Amendment into an instrument of harassment and political intimidation.
Freedom of Association “In The News”
- “Ever since Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform in 1912, seven presidents — Democrats and Republicans alike — have taken up the cause of reform time and time again,” President Obama said ...CONTINUE READING
- Pollsters like to say their surveys are like a snapshot, limited to the time and the picture frame in which they are taken. What we are seeing in polling on the takeover ...CONTINUE READING
- John Maynard Keynes is considered one of the leading lights of liberal economics. Challenged by a critic who said that in the long run, Keynesian economics would lead to national bankruptcy, Keynes ...CONTINUE READING
- In 2005, the National Rifle Association of America enacted a law that probably saved the American gun-making industry from bankruptcy. And just this last week, the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge ...CONTINUE READING
- Markos Moulitsas Zuniga is the proprietor of the influential liberal blog Daily Kos. The blog is a must-visit site for those who are serious about the direction of the Democratic party. The ...CONTINUE READING
- As Fiscal Year 2010 finally begins, a judge has struck down Congress’ law ending federal funding of ACORN. It’s ironic in that de-funding ACORN was the only example of fiscal restraint we’ve ...CONTINUE READING
- Asked about the constitutionality of his healthcare bill’s key provision, President Obama said it’s legal because people have to buy car insurance. That statement is so dead wrong as a matter of ...CONTINUE READING
- Media and the public are fixated on the burgeoning band of brazen bimbos telling tales of their shameless trysts with Tiger Woods. The Woods adultery scandal has eclipsed the news about the ...CONTINUE READING
- President Barack Obama has completed his months-long “deliberations” over his latest Afghanistan policy. He got more applause from Republicans than from Democrats after his long-running Hamlet act. The Prince of Denmark was ...CONTINUE READING
- Many have heard about the historic gun rights case going to the Supreme Court. Fewer have heard that this is also a major case for businesses and family values. It could lead ...CONTINUE READING
- What if there was a federal law stating that anytime you owe anyone a duty to be honest and you violate that duty, you’re committing a federal felony? Guess what–there already is. ...CONTINUE READING
- The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case over an executive-branch agency that is completely outside presidential control. Team Obama argued that the Court should keep it that way, leaving in place ...CONTINUE READING
- Congress wants the White House staff director involved in the now-infamous “gatecrasher” dinner to explain what happened. She won’t, because President Obama is invoking executive privilege. While there’s a decent claim for ...CONTINUE READING
- The case McDonald v. City of Chicago presents to the Supreme Court the issue of whether the Second Amendment right to bear arms is applicable to state and local governments, or instead ...CONTINUE READING
- The American people are fed up with an out-of-control government, largely run by unaccountable officials like President Obama’s “czars.” The Constitution strictly limits how officials can get their jobs and their power, ...CONTINUE READING
- If government action takes your property, the Constitution says government must give you fair market value for it. But what if a court takes your property? That’s what the Supreme Court is ...CONTINUE READING
- When the ACLU loses on a security issue, America wins. And vice versa. On Monday, the ACLU lost when the Supreme Court overturned the Second Circuit’s order to release photos of alleged detainee ...CONTINUE READING
- We don’t yet know how bad the Ft. Hood shooter’s case was. We do not know–and we must find out–how it was possible for an Army medical officer to openly express treasonous ...CONTINUE READING
- I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. Nor is Steve Pearlstein a doctor. Pearlstein is the respected business columnist of the Washington Post. His weekly column scorched President ...CONTINUE READING
- The U.S. Senate is now trying to speed-read the 2,074 pages of the health care takeover bill after 60 senators voted to proceed on Nov. 21. It only took an insertion of ...CONTINUE READING