Former ACLU chief slams organization for failing to stand up for free speech: ‘What is the ACLU doing saying that?’
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A former head of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has criticized the organization for failing to uphold freedom of expression and failing to live up to its “values”.
Ira Glasser served as the ACLU’s fifth executive director from 1978 to 2001, with the organization crediting him with expanding its operations into a nationwide “powerhouse.”
But Glasser feels the hard work he’s put in isn’t paying the dividends he expected.
“They just produced new guidelines a few years ago for their attorneys to use in deciding which free speech cases to take,” Glasser explained during an appearance on “Real Time” with Bill Maher. “It is now a requirement for national employers in the ACLU, that before taking on a case defending someone’s free speech, they must ensure that the speech does not offend or threaten other values of civil liberties.”
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“In other words, before they defend your free speech, they want to see what you’re saying,” he added. “What is the ACLU doing saying that?”
Maher reminded viewers that Glasser believed so deeply in the full breadth of free speech that he once defended the right of a group of Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois in 1977 when he was the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
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David Goldberger, who led the case for the ACLU, wrote that he still struggled to represent a group known for its hatred and bigotry, but Skokie’s laws were at stake – a law the city used to deny Jewish veterans a permit. walk too.
“To this day, I have no doubt that the ACLU’s commitment to equal rights for all is the backbone of our democracy – no matter how offensive our patrons are,” he said. writes Goldberger, and Glasser seems to be defending that same tough stance.
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“In fact, most of the speeches we stood for didn’t reflect our values,” Glasser pointed out. “That’s the point.”
“If you hire a lawyer to defend the First Amendment, you want to have a reasonable assumption that he likes the First Amendment,” he said. “That he supports the First Amendment.”