No one should be surprised by the ACLU's new support for censorship

While Loudoun County's school district has been getting deserved attention because of its far-left policies and its willingness to ignore a student's sexual assault to advance those policies, Virginia's Fairfax County is also embroiled in a fight with parents.  There, the fight revolves around documents the district released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request but that it now wants removed from the public domain.  The ACLU has been conspicuously silent about the district's wrongful conduct while encouraging censorship in Loudoun County.  This shouldn't surprise anyone who knows the ACLU's hard-left history.

First, the relevant facts, from Hans Bader, at Liberty Unyielding:

In Virginia, the ACLU did nothing to help parents who were subjected to clearly-unconstitutional censorship in Fairfax County. Instead, it filed a brief in support of censorship in neighboring Loudoun County.

Meanwhile, in Fairfax County, two mothers worried about the school district's possibly excessive legal fees.  They filed a FOIA request, and the district produced some records.  One of the mothers redacted confidential information and put the documents online.  The school sued the women, demanding that they return the documents and remove them from the internet.

A state court sided with the school, even though the law supports the mothers:

Incredibly, a state court judge granted a temporary order last month ordering Oettinger to take down the information. This was a flagrant, obvious violation of Supreme Court rulings declaring that such court orders against speech are unconstitutional "prior restraints" that violate the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has long made clear that people can't be prevented from publishing information given to them by the government, even when the government gave them that information by mistake, and even when the information is highly private in nature. (See, e.g., Florida Star v. B.J.F. [1989]).

Bader notes the ACLU's conspicuous silence about this government censorship.  Perhaps the ACLU was too busy trying to help the Loudoun school board, which is accused of violating the First Amendment:

On October 14, the ACLU announced, "Three teachers in Loudoun county are going to court simply because they don't want to use trans & nonbinary students' pronouns. We and partners filed an amicus brief to tell the court: Refusing to use a student's pronouns because of who they are is discrimination." The ACLU's brief was filed in Cross v. Loudoun County School Board. In that case, the Virginia Supreme Court, relying on the First Amendment, earlier upheld a court order temporarily reinstating a coach who was suspended for objecting to transgender-pronoun mandates at a school board meeting.

Bader has an extended discussion about the First Amendment problems with forcing teachers to use someone's "pronouns."  It's interesting and well worth your time.  However, I want to focus on the ACLU.

Nobody should be shocked that the ACLU will not support the First Amendment.  It has never really supported the First Amendment.  From its founding 101 years ago, the ACLU has been a socialist organization that has as its true focus advancing socialist doctrines.

Its founders in 1920 were:

  • Helen Keller — a socialist.
  • Roger Nash Baldwin — a socialist until he turned on communism and, in the 1940s, sought unsuccessfully to kick communists out of the ACLU.
  • Crystal Eastman — a socialist.
  • Walter Nelles — a socialist.
  • Morris Ernst — prior to the 1930s, a communist supporter; after the 1940s, an anti-communist who tried to keep communists out of the ACLU.
  • Albert DeSilver — killed by a train four years after the ACLU was founded, so he left little imprint on the organization.
  • Arthur Garfield Hays — an early Progressive, which was America's version of Britain's Fabianism (i.e., slo-mo socialism).
  • Jane Addams — although she refused the "socialist" label, she was a radical whose views aligned with early 20th-century American socialism.
  • Felix Frankfurter — before he became a Supreme Court justice, Frankfurter was a socialist/communist sympathizer.
  • Elizabeth Gurley Flynn — a communist who died in 1961 in the Soviet Union, which gave her a state funeral.

In addition, Norman Thomas, who headed the Socialist Party of America, was involved in the ACLU's early years.

When socialism and communism were disfavored in America, the ACLU used the First Amendment and other civil rights to ensure that socialists had a loud voice.  Now that leftism is ascendant in America, the ACLU, very consistently, is working to assure that leftist voices are the only ones heard.  So its refusal to help those Fairfax moms and its efforts to silence anyone in Loudoun who won't support the left's current pet cause of transgenderism are entirely consistent with its long, socialist history.

Image: ACLU logo edited by Andrea Widburg.

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