Ethics Dunce: The ACLU

I suppose they just can’t help themselves, sometimes.

So handsome…and so foolish to mess up with partisan politics.

I support the American Civil Liberties Union because of its mission, and because it is on the correct side of issues more often than not. Still, it is stocked with left-wing ideologues, and too often is blatantly political, which damages its reputation, perceived integrity and effectiveness. Every American should be a supporter of a non-profit organization that stands for individual rights and freedoms as defined by the Constitution. Once such a group aligns itself clearly with one side of the political spectrum, however, this is impossible. At very least, the organization should refrain from partisan political attacks, which raises questions of conflict of interest, fairness, and independent judgment. The ACLU is too important to sully with political bias, but since it is run by people full of it, such taint is inevitable.*

Thus we have the embarrassing “report” by ACLU Liberty Watch. I can’t tell what the affiliation with the ACLU is; I assume that the ACLU approves and oversees an entity that leads with its name. This report attacks Mitt Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, as being “anti-civil liberties,” using the most dubious and extreme rationales to do so. My instant reaction: How can I trust an organization that proudly publishes such slanted trash with such obvious partisan intent to be a dispassionate watchdog on my civil liberties?

The answer: I can’t. Neither can you.

Observe:

  •  The report says Ryan is “anti-civil rights” regarding immigration. Why? Because he “believes efforts should be focused on border security and that pursuing the DREAM Act at this time would be a “serious mistake.” How are either of these beliefs—which I share, incidentally—indicative of  hostility to civil rights? By what definition of civil rights is the U.S. obligated not to manage its borders or to provide an incentive for aliens to illegally carry their minor children across the border in defiance of U.S. law? Never mind whether or not you agree with the policy of encouraging and enabling illegal immigration—the contention that supporting strict enforcement of immigration laws is “anti-civil rights” is indefensible.
  • The report says Ryan is “anti-civil rights” regarding “reproductive freedom” (a euphemism) because he opposes abortion and government funding of contraception. Regarding civil rights, Ryan, like many Americans, is focusing on the civil rights of individuals—the unborn– that the ACLU chooses to argue don’t have rights. That does not make Ryan any more “anti-civil rights” than the ACLU. Nor has it ever been established that it is a civil right to have the government pay for your contraception. If you think it should be, fine—make the case. But opposing an argument for establishing a right is not the same as opposing civil rights.
  • The report says Ryan is “anti-civil rights” regarding torture and indefinite detention policy, and says this is the reason: he “voted against defense legislation that authorizes the President to send the military anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial.”  Does that make sense to you? I’ve read it ten times. Is this a typo? Can someone explain what the ACLU is arguing here?
  • Finally, the report says Ryan is “anti-civil rights” regarding voting rights, because he approves of voter ID laws…you know, like the U.S. Supreme Court. I guess supporting voter registration is also “anti-civil rights.” The ACLU report uses the worst kind of dishonest language here, real attack ad advocacy tricks, saying that Ryan believes “discriminatory voter ID laws are important and improve integrity in elections.”  A lie. He believes voter ID laws are important and improve integrity in elections. Nobody has shown conclusively that such laws have the effect of discriminating, and that is not their intent, despite what the President’s politicized Attorney General tells Al Sharpton’s followers. Again, debate the balancing of allowing something as important as a vote be less secure than renting a car  or flying in a plane, and making a dedicated voter pay the 20 bucks it might take to get an ID so elections aren’t stolen, but don’t tell us that Ryan is “anti-civil rights” because of the completely legitimate position he has sided with in a close issue.

On a fifth issue, the ACLU is correct that Ryan’s opposition to equal rights for gays in the military, marriage and elsewhere is hostile to civil rights principles.  The rest? Pure, unvarnished partisan politicking, with lazy logic and unfair word games mixed in.

Really, really dumb, ACLU. Integrity is a terrible thing to waste.

* I thought this passage was sufficiently clear, but apparently not, based on some of the comments below. Let me be clearer. The ACLU needs to be an absolutist defender of constitutional rights, standing for the rights themselves, regardless of who the violators are and what their reasons may be, and regardless of who the victims are. Engaging in partisanship destroys the organization’s claim to be an unbiased defender of freedom, If it shows itself more sensitive to violations of basic rights by one side of the political spectrum or against one side, while overlooking other equally egregious conduct when it is either engaged in by the other side, then any future position taken by the ACLU is vulnerable to attack on the grounds that it is based on politics rather than an unbiased fealty to the Bill of Rights. If the ACLU is not perceived as being blind to politics and ideology, then cannot be as effective, because it will have no moral authority.

It is not blind to politics. As the Ryan “report” shows, it doesn’t even attempt to be.

_________________________________

Pointer: The Daily Caller

Facts: ACLU Liberty Watch

Source: ACLU

Graphic: Columbia SEO Consulting

39 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: The ACLU

  1. Number 4 really puzzled me too. I suppose the ACLU is making the argument that protecting civil liberties in the US requires getting rid of civil liberties outside the US or something.

  2. Jack,
    Well done! I have found that many organizations that have done some truly great things come to this same point time and again. It is trading integrity, morality, goodwill and respect for support of a cause that they feel strongly about regardless if it is counter to their purpose, values or definitions. The damage this does to their true purpose is incalculable.

  3. I can make a guess, but it’s only that, about #3. It’s clear from the link that the ACLU is talking about HR 1540, the NDAA. There are provisions there that the Obama administration claims to have supported that, in the words of the signing statement, mean the legislation simply reaffirms existing law with respect to treatment of prisoners, rather than expanding presidential authority. There was some attempt to strike that language as too restrictive. Ryan may have been part of that effort, although I don’t know that. I suppose that if he attempted to remove the restrictive language he could be charged with opposing civil rights… of people who are neither citizens nor resident aliens, and who were arrested on US soil.

    Ryan did vote against the final bill, as did 93 Democrats, including Charlie Rangel, Barney Frank, and Dennis Kucinich. Not exactly reactionaries, that lot. So… um… yeah. I’ve got no idea. One thing that’s certainly true: no one really knows what that legislation does. I wrote about this a couple of times in December: it’s one of the relatively few cases I can recall in which the political disagreement is not about whether a bill is a good idea, or even what the long-term implications might be, but about what actually is and is not authorized. Scary, actually.

    Also, there was a turf war. President Obama’s objections to one version of the bill were grounded in his belief that the President, not Congress, should have the authority in question. Indeed, most of the opposition to the bill was centered on who should have the say in administering the bill’s policies. There were a couple of Congressmen (e.g. Kucinich) who didn’t think the provision was a good idea at all, but most of the squabbling came down to who would have control–the executive or legislative branch. So opposition to giving the power to the President probably means only claiming in for Congress. I’m not sure how this makes an indictment of Ryan in these terms legitimate, but it might mean that he wasn’t actively supporting civil rights, even though his vote might have made it appear that he was.

    • Thanks, Rick, and “wow.” That’s really weird. My assumption would then be that someone was straining to find justifications for attacking Ryan, and why would the ACLU feel it was 1) appropriate 2) productive and 3) consistent with its mission to do that, absent something so convoluted that you and I can’t figure out what the theory is? That item alon, forget the rest, shows that at very least the organization’s website oversight is incompetent. I honestly expected you or Barry of tgt to show me that I completely misread the thing, because I couldn’t imagine that the ACLU would be using incoherent arguments. These are mostly lawyer,s after all.

  4. It’s been my sad experience when a once admired organization becomes controlled by ideologues, no matter how noble may have been its original intent, the end has arrived and it is better to bury the entity than saw off an offending limb in hopes a healthy trunk might survive. Won’t happen.

    Yes. it is a shame, but experience teaches us we will get over it. And ironically, such an organization often takes on a nature antithetical to its name. Example 2: Southern Poverty Law Center anyone?

  5. The whole thing seems a little fishy. The “about” section doesn’t mention the regular ACLU. None of the emails are to ACLU.org. The only indication is the as-yet-unpunished use of three ACLU name. I’m not saying this isn’t legit, but a few red flags are fluttering in the breeze.

  6. Nor has it ever been established that it is a civil right to have the government pay for your contraception.

    Why would such an idea have more credibility than me arguing that I have a civil right for the government to pay for a trip to Las Vegas or Yosemite National Park, with me staying in the most luxurious accommodations available?

  7. The report says Ryan is “anti-civil rights” regarding torture and indefinite detention policy, and says this is the reason: he “voted against defense legislation that authorizes the President to send the military anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial.” Does that make sense to you? I’ve read it ten times. Is this a typo? Can someone explain what the ACLU is arguing here?

    Apparently it is a civil right for soldiers to go anywhere and imprison and torture whomever they want, whether in Kabul, Afghanistan or Chicago, Illinois, USA. Court-martialing them for such conduct is apparently a violation of their fundamental rights.

  8. Finally, the report says Ryan is “anti-civil rights” regarding voting rights, because he approves of voter ID laws…you know, like the U.S. Supreme Court. I guess supporting voter registration is also “anti-civil rights.” The ACLU report uses the worst kind of dishonest language here, real attack ad advocacy tricks, saying that Ryan believes “discriminatory voter ID laws are important and improve integrity in elections.” A lie. He believes voter ID laws are important and improve integrity in elections. Nobody has shown conclusively that such laws have the effect of discriminating, and that is not their intent, despite what the President’s politicized Attorney General tells Al Sharpton’s followers.

    I was reading some of the posts on this forum thread , and was dismayed by almost all of the posts.

    Here is one post from the thread,

    And we are supposed to trust this judicial remedies for a law that has no reasonable basis for existing, and was created specifically to manipulate the results of elections? Sorry, no dice. Bottom line, I don’t care about the State courts and their rulings.

    That same poster admitted.

    It sounds reasonable to the average person because it’s intuitive that people should have proof to say who they say they are in order to vote in order to prevent people not authorized from voting to vote. This is why the GOP thinks they can get away with this. Because any argument against this will sound like radical fear mongering.

    The posts opposing the law do sound like radical fear mongering.

  9. Does that make sense to you? I’ve read it ten times. Is this a typo? Can someone explain what the ACLU is arguing here?

    It’s a typo; they intended to say that Ryan voted “for” the legislation, not against.

    Rick says in comments that Ryan voted against the bill, but I think he’s mistaken; Ryan voted for the bill, according to the recorded vote. Rick, is it possible you’re mixing up Ryan (WI) with Ryan (OH), who voted against the bill?

    • You’re right… my apologies. That was inexcusably careless of me.

      But Jack’s point still stands. No one really knows whether the bill extended or merely re-affirmed the government’s authority. Both sides blithely say the courts will decide. And if Kucinich, et al voted against the bill, Sheila Jackson Lee, Nancy Pelosi, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz all voted for it. So that part of my commentary still stands: there were plenty of well-known liberals and plenty of well-known conservatives on both sides of this bill, and none of them really knew what they were voting on.

      This is not to suggest that civil liberties issues don’t often make for strange political bedfellows, but I don’t think that’s the case here. I think it was a remarkably poorly crafted bill that divided Congresscritters based on what they thought the bill meant as much or more as on whether they thought it was a good idea.

      I wouldn’t vote for Paul Ryan with the proverbial gun at my head, but this is a cheap shot.

      • What he said. And I’d add, Barry, that #4 proves my point about both the motive and the ethical problem with the whole report. It is a political hit job and a sloppy one, and we should hold the ACLU to a higher standard of conduct.

      • Saying it’s “inexcusably careless” is an exaggeration. You’d be amazed at how much I’m willing to excuse. :-p

        On balance, I agree with you and Jack that #4 is a weak argument. They should have (and could have) fleshed it out with other examples to make a better argument. On the whole, this “brief paper” looks like a rush job to me, and it is unlikely to be persuasive. But I don’t believe that making a weak argument is an unethical act.

        Although you might be right that Congress simply didn’t know what it was voting on, I suspect the ACLU (which lobbied hard against this bill) doesn’t agree with your assessment, and disagreeing with you on this matter is not an unethical act.

        I’m extremely leery of any argument that seems to amount to saying “holding legislators responsible for their votes is unethical and a cheap shot,” which is what you and Jack seem to be arguing.

        • No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that Paul Ryan gets the same pass on this one that Barack Obama claimed for himself: that there are troubling, or potentially troubling, parts of the bill but there’s too much good there to risk sacrificing the good while demanding the perfect. I don’t know that Ryan reasoned that way, but I also don’t know that he didn’t. Moreover, this particular bill was ambiguously written–intentionally or otherwise–and that complicates things even further.

          I have no use for Ryan, and I opposed the bill vigorously (I wrote about it twice last December), but to use this particular vote to criticize Ryan: yeah, cheap shot.

          • Which is why using votes to show what some legislator believes is perilous, and usually unfair. Most bills, especially nowadays, have so much crap piled in them that one could justify voting for or against them depending on one’s priorities.

  10. Yes, you and the ACLU have a good-faith disagreement on what civil liberties entail. But how can disagreeing with you be “unethical”? Are you saying that the ACLU has an ethical obligation to never take a position that you don’t agree with?

    The “report” on Ryan is disappointing; it’s too short to be useful, and they don’t make detailed arguments to support their positions, which makes it hard to know exactly what they’re saying.

    1. Immigration. Immigrants, including unauthorized immigrants, have civil rights. Passing the DREAM act would increase civil rights for some undocumented immigrants, by giving them a right they currently lack. I don’t see anything wrong per se with increased border enforcement (other than it’s throwing away taxpayer money on a policy that won’t work), but to oppose doing anything to increase immigrant rights until AFTER a hypothetical future moment when the borders are secure enough (which is, iirc, Ryan’s position) can legitimately be seen as opposed to immigrant rights.

    Now, you may not agree. And we could argue that out. But you’re saying that it’s UNETHICAL to disagree with you on this, and that doesn’t make any sense to me.

    I could go through your entire post and make detailed arguments for each one, but it’s a little pointless. The argument would be the same for each one. In no case has the ACLU made an argument that is beyond the bound of reasonable, good-faith disagreement. And it’s wrong for you to argue that reasonable, good-faith disagreement with your opinions is unethical.

    • You would have to really read the post with a jaundiced eye to conclude I’m arguing that there is anything unethical about the ACLU disagareeing with me, or anyone else. What is is unethical is the the exercise of miscasting legitimate policy disagreements as a general “anti-civil rights” position in order to take a partisan side in the Presidential race, which degrades the ACLU’s authority and credibility as a protector of all American’s civil rights. First of all the arguments being presented—not on the substance but on the “anti-civil rights” theory— are unworthy of a rights champion as they are, alternatively, weak, contrived, intellectually dishonest or incomprehensible. Second, they are partisna through and through, in timing, in framing, in rhetoric. The ACLU is supposed to be non-partisan.

      It is ridiculous and insulting to argue that anti-abortion advocates are against “civil rights.” They are against what they regard as state sanctioned killing of innocents for the convenience of women, and they have strong ethical, moral, legal and scientific arguments in their behalf. It is similarly disingenuous to argue that someone who votes to enforce current immigration laws are against civil rights. I think the support of illegal immigrants is an absurd, cynical and dangerous position, but that’s beside the point 1) the argument against that position should be mischaracterized—nobody has a civil right to break laws and escape the consequences—and especially by the ACLU.

      Finally, the ACLU, if it is going to take such a nakedly partisan position, is obligated by its duty to protect its own credibility to do a competent job backing up its arguments, which it does not do. I didn’t write this, but could have and maybe should have: using votes alone to argue that a legislator “believes” anything is naive and demonstrably unfair. I know that the President doesn’t comprehend how politics work, but you should: votes are traded for future political considerations; legislators vote one way when a matter is close, and another when its not. They are the weakest measure of “belief ” imaginable, and using them as the sole indicia is a fools game.

      The whole “report” was incompetent and foolish. I don’t like having the supposedly non-partisan watchdog of my rights show itself to be incompetent and foolish. Disagreeing with me has absolutely nothing to do with it. I would have written exactly the same thing if they concocted an argument that Barack Obama was “anti-civil rights” because he imposed support of birth control on Catholics, prejudiced the justice process against George Zimmerman, uses drones to kill American citizens abroad, kept Guantanamo open, illegally defied Congress and the law by bombing Libya (and claiming it wasn’t “hostile actions),and ordered Osama Bin Laden killed….and personally think the President is wrong on most of that.

      • To be “partisan,” in a negative sense, one puts party loyalty above other interests. Can we agree on that?

        So, for example, Democrats who were vocally anti-drone killings during Bush, but are suddenly silent or even supportive when Obama pursues (and expands) the same policy, are partisan hypocrites. They are partisan not because they agree with the Democrats on policy, but because their view on policy matters is contingent on what’s good for their party.

        Can we agree on that?

        If we can agree on that, I don’t see how you can claim that the ACLU is acting in a partisan manner. They are clearly basing their judgements on policy views that they actually care about and believe in, rather than picking their policy views in order to support the Democrat.. Many of these policies are policies that they frequently criticize Democrats, including Obama, on. (Note that Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, often does better in the ACLU’s measures than Obama does.)

        Of course the ACLU and the Democrats often agree, but that in and of itself is not proof of unethical partianship.

        What is is unethical is the the exercise of miscasting legitimate policy disagreements as a general “anti-civil rights” position in order to take a partisan side in the Presidential race, which degrades the ACLU’s authority and credibility as a protector of all American’s civil rights.

        I agree there are legitimate policy disagreements, but what on earth is unethical about saying “this is a civil liberties issue” about a legitimate policy disagreement?

        People often have good-faith disagreements about what civil liberties should be recognized, and disagreeing about such a matter is not unethical.

        The ACLU had a five-issue-area scorecard that existed many months before Ryan’s selection as VP candidate had been announced. Once Ryan was announced, they ran him by their already-existing scoring system and found that “The report found that Ryan held anti-civil liberties positions across all five issue areas.”

        So what, exactly, is unethical? Is it unethical for them to measure Ryan by the five issue areas they were using long before he was selected? Is it unethical for them to report that, by their pre-existing measures, Ryan scores poorly in five out of five issue areas?

        Of course not. So what, exactly, is unethical about the ACLU reporting that by their measures, Paul Ryan scores poorly?

        You say the arguments are “weak, contrived, intellectually dishonest or incomprehensible.” I already said that their arguments here are weak, but I don’t think making a weak argument is unethical. (If it were, then your original post would be extremely unethical.)

        You could make an argument for intellectual dishonesty as being unethical, but you’ve yet to prove a single point on which they’re being intellectually dishonest.

        Second, they are partisna through and through, in timing, in framing, in rhetoric. The ACLU is supposed to be non-partisan.

        In timing? Seriously? Spell out this claim for me, please. Are you saying it’s unethical to release a report on a political candidate at a time when people are clamoring for information on that candidate? Or are you saying that it’s unethical for them to criticize candidates in the months prior to an election? Either view seems self-evidently ridiculous, but I can’t figure out in what other way their “timing” is unethical.

        Fill in this sentence: “The ACLU is partisan because they have done _____, ______, ______, none of which are things that could plausibly be motivated by good-faith disagreements about policy and the meaning of “civil liberties,” rather than partisan loyalty.”

        If you’re incapable of filling in that sentence with coherent, truthful statements, then you do not have a reasonable argument for concluding that the ACLU has acted out of partisan loyalty.

        After that comes more arguments of the “no reasonable person could possibly disagree with me on this issue, therefore the ACLU has acted unethically by disagreeing with me” genre. The ACLU thinks that abortion rights and the DREAM act are civil liberties issues. You disagree. That’s fair enough, but it’s not unethical for the ACLU to hold a different opinion about what is and isn’t a civil liberties issue than you do.

        I didn’t write this, but could have and maybe should have: using votes alone to argue that a legislator “believes” anything is naive and demonstrably unfair.

        But the ACLU report didn’t use “votes alone;” alongside his votes, they also cited his interviews, his offiicial policy statement, and his cosponsorships.

        How on earth can we ethically decide what policies a politician supports, if judging based on his votes, interviews, statements, and sponsorships is unethical?

        • I agree there are legitimate policy disagreements, but what on earth is unethical about saying “this is a civil liberties issue” about a legitimate policy disagreement?

          I would have no objection to the way you framed it at all—“this is a civil liberties issue”—even if I think their reasoning on that point is flawed. What they said, however, is that Paul Ryan is “anti-civil rights.” That’s an unfair and unsupportable characterization of 4 out of 5 claims.

          People often have good-faith disagreements about what civil liberties should be recognized, and disagreeing about such a matter is not unethical.

          I didn’t say it was. The ACLU isn’t disagreeing, it is characterizing. Accusing someone of being anti-civil rights is akin to saying someone is un-American, cheap politics for a candidate, unconscionable for a non-profit, non-partisan watchdog.

          The ACLU had a five-issue-area scorecard that existed many months before Ryan’s selection as VP candidate had been announced. Once Ryan was announced, they ran him by their already-existing scoring system and found that “The report found that Ryan held anti-civil liberties positions across all five issue areas.”

          Correction. Once it was announced, they tortured facts, fairness and logic to FIND him guilty of what he clearly is not guilty of (in 4 of the 5 areas), in pursuit of partisan goals,

          So what, exactly, is unethical? Is it unethical for them to measure Ryan by the five issue areas they were using long before he was selected? Is it unethical for them to report that, by their pre-existing measures, Ryan scores poorly in five out of five issue areas? So what, exactly, is unethical about the ACLU reporting that by their measures, Paul Ryan scores poorly?

          1) It is unethical to do so sloppily and dishonestly. 2) It is unethical to decree issue areas civil rights issues when they are not. How, for example, is support for enforcing immigration laws a civil rights issue? It may be a human rights issue—a bad one—but civil rights? How? How is advocating a border fence a civil rights issue? The ACLU is using its prestige to tar a candidate with an indefensible accusation. Unethical. Also partisan. Also nauseating. 3) He “scores poorly” by a slanted and unfair scoring system…votes on bills. The ACLU really is claiming that to vote against a bill its liberal staff likes is to be anti-civil rights? You really think that is fair?

          You say the arguments are “weak, contrived, intellectually dishonest or incomprehensible.” I already said that their arguments here are weak, but I don’t think making a weak argument is unethical. (If it were, then your original post would be extremely unethical.)

          Cheap shot. You agree that the report is weak—that’s what I said. The ACLU is putting out a weak attack on an Obama opponent for partisan political purposes. That is true, and it is unseemly and weakens the ACLU’s influence and credibility. You should be agreeing with me.

          You could make an argument for intellectual dishonesty as being unethical, but you’ve yet to prove a single point on which they’re being intellectually dishonest.

          Baloney. The contention that a Congressman voting to enforce existing, Constitutional laws is “anti-civil rights” is dishonest on its face. Accusing a pro-life anti-abortion advocate of being anti-civil rights is dishonest. Lawyers know that competing rights have to be balanced. They are pretending they don’t, and that the objective of anti-abortion efforts is to suppress women’s rights. The objective is to stop women from killing living human beings. That is obviously intellectually dishonest. “But they aren’t human beings!” is a legitimate argument, but to reach the conclusion that Ryan is anti-civil rights, the ACLU must assume that he agrees with that argument. He doesn’t. Unethical.

          “Second, they are partisan through and through, in timing, in framing, in rhetoric. The ACLU is supposed to be non-partisan.”

          In timing? Seriously? Spell out this claim for me, please. Are you saying it’s unethical to release a report on a political candidate at a time when people are clamoring for information on that candidate? Or are you saying that it’s unethical for them to criticize candidates in the months prior to an election? Either view seems self-evidently ridiculous, but I can’t figure out in what other way their “timing” is unethical.

          This is why the ACLU has lost respect—a partisan double standard. Speech codes at liberal colleges aren’t worth their time, but watch them jump when a high school tells a kid he can’t have a “Bong hits for Jesus”banner. If the ACLU came out with any similarly unified criticism of Obama’s many colorable civil rights violations, I’d concede that the group isn’t playing politics—but it’s not. Joe Biden “believes”, based on his comments in China, that killing baby girls is “understandable.” Where’s his score card? The ACLU is being non-partisan like the NAACP. I’d say they have forfeited their right to non-profit status.

          Fill in this sentence: “The ACLU is partisan because they have done _____, ______, ______, none of which are things that could plausibly be motivated by good-faith disagreements about policy and the meaning of “civil liberties,” rather than partisan loyalty.”

          “The ACLU is partisan because they have mischaracterized legitimate policy disagreements on some civil rights-related issues as “anti-civil rights beliefs”, made a damning accusation without sufficient relavant evidence or rigorous reasoning, and applied different standards to a Republican challenger that it has not applied to the current Democratic officeholders, and done so using a sloppy, typo infested, incoherent, badly reasoned document, none of which are things that could plausibly be motivated by good-faith disagreements about policy and the meaning of “civil liberties,” rather than partisan loyalty, if the organization had the integrity, skills and credibility it aspires to have, claims it has, and must have, if it is to perform its crucial mission.”

          If you’re incapable of filling in that sentence with coherent, truthful statements, then you do not have a reasonable argument for concluding that the ACLU has acted out of partisan loyalty.

          Ah, but I’m not!

          After that comes more arguments of the “no reasonable person could possibly disagree with me on this issue, therefore the ACLU has acted unethically by disagreeing with me” genre. The ACLU thinks that abortion rights and the DREAM act are civil liberties issues. You disagree. That’s fair enough, but it’s not unethical for the ACLU to hold a different opinion about what is and isn’t a civil liberties issue than you do.

          This is just wrong Barry. If the ACLU comes out with a “report” that says that Paul Ryan is a Martian, this unequivocally is irresponsible and degrades their credibility. The ACLU has to apply better reasoning that that, and also better than claiming things that are not civil rights issues are. Thus I conclude they are irresponsible and unethical. My conclusion about the group’s integrity flows from my conviction that it is fudging the meaning of “civil rights” to take shots at Ryan. Which they are. If you don’t think so, 1) Wow and 2) Fine, send the ACLU your money. As lawyer, I think the reasoning in the “report” is pathetic….and yes, I hold the ACLU to a higher standard than you should hold me. If I’m full of crap, swell-lots of people can do my job. We need a competent and trustworthy ACLU, and this report suggests neither.

          • You say “I’d say they have forfeited their right to non-profit status.”

            1) I think you mean lose tax deductible status. There are 29 different designations under Section 501(c). Examples of non-profits with partisan goals are Citizens United and Freedomworks.

            2) The ACLU is a 501(c)(4) organization and donations to it are not tax deductible.

            So, even if this is partisan (something that I am not convinced of), there is no government action to be taken, as opposed to the multitude of churches whose preachers support candidates all the time and never lose their tax deductible 501(c)(3) status.

            • The communications and educational activities, as well as the litigation, are funded by the ACLU foundation, which is what I should have specified as “the ACLU.” So was this “report”, which is campaign activity, pure and simple. I’m well aware of the various non-profit designations, having worked for 501 C (3)s, (4)’s and (6)’s.

              Sure there is “government action to be taken.” It the government’s officials didn’t think they benefited from groups like the ACLU and NAACP—and the churches—cheating, they would stop it. And they should.

              • From this page on the ACLU Liberty Watch 2012 Campaign http://www.aclulibertywatch.org/content/aclu-liberty-watch-2012-campaign

                “The ACLU Liberty Watch 2012 Campaign is a campaign of the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization exempt from tax under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, that is engaged in the mission of defending the rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, including First Amendment freedoms, equality, privacy rights and fundamental fairness. It is a separate entity from the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, an organization exempt from tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Code. While the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation share the same mission, it is necessary that this mission be undertaken by two separate organizations.”

                So this campaign is being funded from the ACLU and not the ACLU Foundation.

  11. Regarding civil rights, Ryan, like many Americans, is focusing on the civil rights of individuals—the unborn– that the ACLU chooses to argue don’t have rights.

    How does that justify this ?

    Pregnant teen dies after abortion ban delays her chemo treatment for leukemia
    CHEMOTHERAPY
    August 18, 2012|From Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor

    The mother of a pregnant leukemia patient who died after her chemotherapy was delayed over anti- abortion laws is accusing doctors of not putting her daughter’s health first.

    The 16-year-old’s plight attracted worldwide attention after she had to wait for chemotherapy because of an abortion ban in the Dominican Republic.

    Doctors were hesitant to give her chemotherapy because such treatment could terminate the pregnancy — a violation of the Dominican Constitution, which bans abortion. Some 20 days after she was admitted to the hospital, she finally started receiving treatment.

    She died Friday, a hospital official said.

    At the time the treatment started, Rosa Hernandez, the girl’s mother, said she tried to convince doctors and the Dominican government to make an exception so that her daughter’s life could be saved.

    “My daughter’s life is first. I know that (abortion) is a sin and that it goes against the law … but my daughter’s health is first,” Hernandez said.

    The teen died from complications of the disease, said Dr. Antonio Cabrera, the legal representative for the hospital.

    “They have killed me, I’m dead, dead. I’m nothing,” her mother said. ” She was the reason for my existence. I no longer live. Rosa has died. Let the world know that Rosa is dead.”

    The patient was 13 weeks pregnant.

    Her body rejected a blood transfusion and did not respond to the chemotherapy, and her condition worsened overnight, Cabrera said.

    She then suffered a miscarriage early Friday, followed by cardiac arrest, and doctors were unable to revive her.

    Representatives from the Dominican Ministry of Health, the Dominican Medical College, the hospital and the girl’s family had talked for several days before deciding to go forward with the chemotherapy.

    The case sparked renewed debate over abortion in the Dominican Republic, with some lawmakers calling on officials to reconsider the abortion ban.

    According to Article 37 of the Dominican Constitution, “the right to life is inviolable from the moment of conception and until death.” Dominican courts have interpreted this as a strict mandate against abortion. Article 37, passed in 2009, also abolished the death penalty.

    Does this not require an ethics dunce?

    • Any situation which requires weighing one life against another is going to have no satisfying solution. What I find distasteful is the presenting of a case like this as if it were the norm – According to Planned Parenthood’s own numbers, difficult cases like this make up 3% of all abortions. If you do take the stance that an infant is a unique human being, with civil rights of it’s own, then it’s clear that we’ve permitted millions of women to murder their offspring out of convienience, not out of medical necessity.

      The Dominican Constitution forbids the taking of one life to protect another, and the doctors there adhered to that standard, even when the stakes were astronomically high. Now, it may be fair to use this situation to question “are these still the rules we choose to adhere to?” but adhering to those rules when you really don’t WANT to is the very hallmark of Ethical behavior.

      Sad as the situation is (and I pray that the families of the lost ones quickly find peace) if this situation deserves anything, it’s an ethics hero.

      • If you do take the stance that an infant is a unique human being, with civil rights of it’s own, then it’s clear that we’ve permitted millions of women to murder their offspring out of convienience, not out of medical necessity.

        In this particular case, abortion would be a side effect to a legitimate medical treatment.

        If I were to get in the way of someone’s chemotherapy such that they would have to kill me to administer the chemotherapy, I would get capped without hesitation. The unborn should not get a special pass.

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