Many of the people I talk to bring up the ACLU as some kind of paragon of civil liberties defense. I’ve never bought into this line of thinking even through I fully acknowledge that the organization has taken on some very good cases. The problem with the ACLU lie in what they consider civil liberties.
This post is here because of a conversation I had with a friend last night. My friend was pointing out the fact that not a single Republican was given a 100% score on civil liberties from the ACLU. This struck me as odd because if there is one thing you can’t fault Ron Paul on it’s civil liberties, and he’s a Republican. I decided to look up their scoring and found Dr. Paul had a measly 42% rating (I chose Ron Paul because he’s a known and predictable quantity, there are other people on there that should be given much high ratings as well). This lead me to question what the ACLU considers civil liberties.
Their pages for the House and Senate list the criteria that is used to determine each politicians ratings. Before I continue I’d like to point out when you hover over the green check marks following a politician’s name the tool tip text states, “Voted right way” while hovering over the red xs states, “Voted wrong way.” I just find their terminology rather funny.
But look at the bills they are using as judgment cases. I’ll just pull a single example otherwise this post will go on for pages. I’ll use the Probhibting Funding of Syringe Exchange Program which is stated by the ACLU as being:
On Friday, July 24, 2009, the House defeated an amendment offered by Representative Mark Souder (R-IN) to the FY 2010 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3293) by a vote of 211-218. The Souder Amendment would have prohibited federal funds from being used to support syringe exchange programs. The ACLU opposed the Souder Amendment as a rejection of evidence-based science, which would have harmful consequences for public health. Every scientific study of needle exchange programs has concluded that access to sterile injection equipment is a proven way to reduce the spread of deadly, infectious blood-borne diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.
What the fuck does this have to do with civil liberties? This is a health care bill when you drill down to the basics. It has nothing to do with anybody’s rights in the slightest. I don’t care whether or not the ACLU stands for or against this bill, but grading politicians on it shows that they aren’t focused on civil liberties.
Beyond that another thing I hate about the ACLU is their stance on the right to keep and bear arms:
Given the reference to “a well regulated Militia” and “the security of a free State,” the ACLU has long taken the position that the Second Amendment protects a collective right rather than an individual right. For seven decades, the Supreme Court’s 1939 decision in United States v. Miller was widely understood to have endorsed that view.
The Supreme Court has now ruled otherwise. In striking down Washington D.C.’s handgun ban by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in D.C. v. Heller held for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, whether or not associated with a state militia.
The ACLU disagrees with the Supreme Court’s conclusion about the nature of the right protected by the Second Amendment. We do not, however, take a position on gun control itself. In our view, neither the possession of guns nor the regulation of guns raises a civil liberties issue.
They don’t believe the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right. They also disagree with the outcome of Heller. What I find amazing is the fact that they don’t find possession nor regulation of guns a civil liberties issue. I can’t imagine what is more important to civil liberties than having a means of defending them.
So with a combination focusing on non-civil liberties issues and a willingness to ignore other civil liberty issues I must state I do not support the ACLU.