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”
- Last week President Obama appointed yet another “czar” with massive government power, answering only to him. Even before this latest appointment, the top-ranking Democrat in the Senate wrote President Obama a letter ...CONTINUE READING
- Anti-Second Amendment politicians have a high-caliber hypocrisy second to none. Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and his anti-gun supporters at The Washington Post are heralding the shooting skills of the Special Police Officers ...CONTINUE READING
- This week a federal appeals court held that the Second Amendment does not apply to state or city gun laws. Supporters of Judge Sonia Sotomayor incorrectly argue that this affirms her recent ...CONTINUE READING
- The 2005 nomination hearings for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts provided a moment of unifying clarity for our politically and ideologically riven nation. Roberts explained the role of a judge as ...CONTINUE READING
- President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a declaration of war against America’s gun owners and the Second Amendment to our Constitution. If gun owners mobilize and unite, it’s possible (though ...CONTINUE READING
- The White House is touting the fact that Judge Sonia Sotomayor has a longer judicial record than any of the current justices on the Court. That fact, however, endangers her confirmation because ...CONTINUE READING
- The Supreme Court’s 5-4 opinion in Boumediene v. Bush will go down as one of the most egregiously-wrong decisions in history. Breaking 200 years of settled precedent, the Court has rewritten the ...CONTINUE READING
- On Thursday June 12, 2008, a narrow five-member majority struck down the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, the so-called military tribunals’ law.This law was passed by Congress to set up procedures for ...CONTINUE READING
- Few realize that two aspects of California’s same-sex marriages are unlike Massachusetts’, and could redefine marriage in every state. And most people might not realize it before November’s election.CONTINUE READING
- The United States Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments about an issue which for many Americans shouldn’t be too complicated. The question is: who should decide the punishment for a crime, ...CONTINUE READING
- One issue that is not being discussed much at the moment is what’s at stake with our federal courts. Some federal judges are now telling pastors and priests what they can and ...CONTINUE READING
- The presidential candidates need to speak out while the spotlight is on Pennsylvania. There is an opportunity for voters in Pennsylvania and across America to know where the candidates stand on an ...CONTINUE READING
- The youth of Philadelphia are in danger. Nearly 112,000 children — over 30 percent of children in the city — live beneath the poverty line. There are as many as 3,900 homeless ...CONTINUE READING
- The Washington Post this week stepped delicately around the thuggish tactics employed by Philadelphia City Solicitor Romulo Diaz, who has engineered a coup against the Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy ...CONTINUE READING
- Almost 80 years ago, the City of Philadelphia granted to the local Boy Scouts a low-cost rent on land at 22d and Winter Streets, “in perpetuity.” This has proven to be a ...CONTINUE READING
- To be a Boy Scout in the twenty-first century entails some consequences. It means that you may not get funding from the United Way. It means that you cannot have summer camp ...CONTINUE READING
- The Constitution is simple, short and easy to read. There is no excuse for any reporter to write about it, without reading it. The latest example is an article about ...CONTINUE READING
- On 24 September, the New York Times published an article on the decision of the Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, which approved the Indiana voter ID law in January, in a ...CONTINUE READING
- Here’s my latest article at Forbes: The promises made by our current Federal entitlement programs would require Federal taxes and spending to double by 2040 as a percent of gross domestic product. The ...CONTINUE READING