An Important Free Speech Victory Against the SPLC

The Southern Poverty Law Center, as Power Line readers know, is one of America’s pre-eminent hate groups. It smears those with whom it disagrees, and the media, politicians, and, in some cases, law enforcement are happy to take its hate campaign seriously. So fighting back against the lavishly funded, but utterly corrupt, SPLC is important.

Happily, one organization smeared by the SPLC, the American Freedom Law Center, has taken the offensive. AFLC is located in Michigan, and Michigan’s left-wing Attorney General and Director of the Department of Civil Rights (since fired) announced their intention to begin a campaign of surveillance and potential criminal prosecution based on lists provided by the SPLC. The American Freedom Law Center, one of the conservative organizations targeted by the far-left SPLC, sued. The defendant government officials moved to dismiss.

In an excellent opinion, Federal Judge Paul Maloney denied the motions and allowed the case to go forward to the discovery stage, which will, among other things, bring to light any communications between the Michigan officials and the SPLC. The full opinion is here. These are some excerpts:

By implicitly endorsing SPLC’s list of hate groups, which includes AFLC, the announcement of the Policy Directive injured AFLC. Remember, AFLC asserts its activities are entirely lawful.

As, of course, they are.

AFLC has established both a harm to its reputation and a credible fear that it will be targeted by the State of Michigan under the Policy Directive. The Court has already explained how the announcement of the Policy Directive damaged AFLC’s reputation. As pled, AFLC reasonably fears that it will be a target for investigation and surveillance. AFLC pleads that “Defendants publicly announced that they would be commencing official investigations and surveillance of all the ‘hate’ groups identified by SPLC that are located in Michigan.” (Compl. ¶ 22 PageID.58.) The fact that the hate crimes unit is still being established and that it will only prosecute crimes does not undermine AFLC’s credible fears of future surveillance. Furthermore, AFLC pleads that the database will not be used to track actual crimes, but incidents. Thus, even if AFLC is never prosecuted, the information gathered through the surveillance and investigation would be recorded in the database and might be used against AFLC in other ways. Based on the record at this point in the litigation, the reason AFLC has been swept up in this new initiative is because of its legal, constitutionally-protected activities, activities with which SPLC disagrees.

PJ Media covered Judge Maloney’s order, and quoted AFLC co-founder and Senior Counsel Robert Muise:

The judge’s powerful and exceedingly favorable decision should send a strong message to the Michigan attorney general that she will not be allowed to weaponize her office to target political opponents. It should also send a strong message to government officials who side with the George Soros-funded and radically partisan SPLC that their day of reckoning is coming. Know this: We will not allow you to trample on our constitutional rights.

Weaponizing law enforcement against political opponents has become a go-to strategy in the Left’s playbook. The Southern Poverty Law Center is a disgraceful hate organization that eventually, one hopes, will be driven out of business by defamation lawsuits. In the meantime, government officials who use the SPLC’s partisan smears as a basis for unconstitutional actions need to be sued. Kudos to the American Freedom Law Center for taking the fight to the far Left.

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