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”
- A small school district in Florida made the mistake of bargaining with the ACLU when it sued them about prayer in schools. Now, under a consent decree written by the ACLU but ...CONTINUE READING
- Three Florida school employees will go to federal court on September 17 to see if they’ll be thrown behind bars. The reason? Prayer. Their school made a deal with the ACLU to ...CONTINUE READING
- Congress created the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) to enforce the Sarbanes Oxley law. But Congress provided for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), not the President, to appoint the members ...CONTINUE READING
- Gun owners are increasingly concerned with the White House’s citing of foreign law when it comes to gun rights. Look no further than the recent Senate confirmation of Professor Harold Koh to ...CONTINUE READING
- The ACLU has filed suit in Pennsylvania in defense of ACORN for a declaration that a law there is unconstitutional for preventing the kind of voter fraud which is a hallmark of ...CONTINUE READING
- Over the next two weeks, one of the critical issues will be your civil rights on guns. Senators could benefit from context to understand the importance of this civil right to protect ...CONTINUE READING
- Last year’s watershed Second Amendment case of District of Columbia v. Heller was just the beginning of the fight over the meaning of the right to keep and bear arms. The most ...CONTINUE READING
- In Dearborn, Michigan, where the local mosque’s call to prayer is broadcast over the town by loudspeakers, a group of Christian evangelists were told that they could not pass out Bibles on ...CONTINUE READING
- “We’re not going to win this case, but that’s okay. Once we get ‘hate crime’ laws on the books, we’re going to go after the Scouts and all the other bigots.” This was ...CONTINUE READING
- Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor claim that her Second Amendment rulings are examples of “judicial restraint.” The problem is that she’s restraining the Second Amendment.CONTINUE READING
- 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
- The Supreme Court has rejected the ACLU appeal of a Circuit Court decision upholding the Georgia Voter ID law. This law requires new voters to present documentation to show they are ...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 City of San Diego has long leased two properties to the San Diego unit of the Boy Scouts of America in return for the construction, operation and maintenance of youth recreational ...CONTINUE READING
- A grandma using an ATM machine should have at least as much protection under the law as a man walking out of a “gay” bar. But under “hate crimes” laws that include ...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