The gutless Mr. Franken

The Alliance Defending Freedom is a Christian legal rights group devoted to the cause of religious freedom. My friend Jordan Lorence is one of the many fine ADF attorneys representing clients in important cases around the country.

To take one outstanding example, ADF attorneys represented the Missouri church with a preschool and daycare center that was excluded from a state program providing grants to purchase rubberized surface material for children’s playgrounds. Although the state highly ranked the center as qualified for the program, it denied the center’s application solely because a church ran the daycare. This past June 26 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the church under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. The vote in favor of the church was 7-2. The Supreme Court opinions in the case are posted here.

To take another outstanding example, ADF attorneys represent Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop in the case to be decided by the Supreme Court this Term. ADF attorneys have just filed their opening brief in the Supreme Court. ADF writes about the case here. The opening ADF brief in the case is posted online here.

The wealthy hate cult that calls itself the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated ADF a hate group. According to the SPLC the ADF is an “anti-LGBT hate group.”

In the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last Wednesday on the confirmation of Notre Dame Law Professor Amy Coney Barrett to the Seventh Circuit, Minnesota Senator Al Franken used the SPLC designation to berate Professor Barrett (video below). Barrett, you see, had once given a speech to the ADF. Let me emphasize that ADF itself is innocent of any wrongdoing, but Franken used McCarthyite tactics to smear Professor Barrett by association with ADF.

At PJ Media Tyler O’Neil has an excellent post documenting the proceedings and collecting relevant information. At Bloomberg View Megan McArdle has a good column on the creative stylings of the SPLC in the business of its hate group designations.

Taking Franken’s shenanigans at face value, ADF president, CEO and general counsel Michael Farris issued this statement last week in response to Franken:

It is deeply regrettable that Sen. Franken is misinformed about our work on behalf of religious freedom, something so “extreme” that even seven justices of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with our position three months ago in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. There is a real danger of conflating genuine hate groups, like the Ku Klux Klan, with mainstream religious beliefs that are shared by millions of Americans and people from all walks of life across the world. As a member of Congress, Sen. Franken needs to fact-check before parroting discredited attacks by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a once-proud civil rights organization that is now a left-wing smear machine known to incite violence. Alliance Defending Freedom is the largest religious liberty legal advocacy organization in the world and advocates for the freedom of all people—including Sen. Franken’s constituents—to peacefully live, speak, and work consistently with their convictions without fear of government punishment.

I have followed Franken’s career for a long time. A little over forty years ago I went to see him try out new SNL material with Tom Davis at the Dudley Riggs ETC Theater on the West Bank in Minneapolis. In his new career as a senatorial paladin of the left Franken has proved himself a joke in many respects, but in one respect he is perfectly representative. He represents the descent of the left into left-wing fascism in the name of the higher wisdom.

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