The American Freedom Law Center is suing two Michigan officials for a policy directive that targets groups designated by the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center as “hate” groups.
The AFLC lawsuit names Dana Nessel, the attorney general, and Agustin Arbulu, the director of the state Department of Civil Rights, as defendants.
SPLC already has been sued by groups and individuals put on its hate list for their opposition to homosexual behavior and Islamic supremacism. Among them are the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom.
The case before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan alleges the policy directive violates AFLC’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by unlawfully targeting AFLC for disparate treatment based on AFLC’s political views and the political views of those it represents in court.
Founded in 2012, AFLC is a national, nonprofit, public interest law firm with offices in Michigan, New York, Arizona, California and Washington, D.C.
But it now finds itself in Michigan’s crosshairs because SPLC, which has settled two lawsuits triggered by its “hate” labels, has designated the AFLC as a “hate” group.”
Robert Muise, AFLC co-founder, said Michigan’s policy directive “should be dubbed the ‘Crimespeak Policy’ because it takes a page right out of George Orwell’s 1984, where the goal of ‘Thinkpol,’ the Thought Police, was to eradicate ‘crimespeak.'”
“In ‘1984,’ to even consider any thought not in line with the principles of those in power was ‘crimespeak,’ subjecting the perpetrator to punishment. The same is true of the challenged policy at issue here. Not surprisingly, this is what you get when you elect left-wing progressives to public office.”
AFLC noted SPLC, funded partly by left-wing billionaire activist George Soros, “has for years dishonestly and falsely labeled and smeared its political opponents as ‘hate’ groups in an effort to marginalize them and the work they do.”
The lawsuit states: “It is one thing for a radically-partisan private organization like SPLC to express its falsehoods about political opponents. However, when the Michigan attorney general and the director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights join and officially endorse this partisan attack by lending government resources and thus becoming the government enforcement agency for SPLC’s radical agenda, the protections of the United States Constitution are triggered.”
It continues: “None of SPLC’s reports, specifically including the reports relied upon by defendants, cite … one example where AFLC has engaged in any criminal activity. Plaintiff is not a criminal organization – it is a lawful, conservative, public interest law firm that defends conservative Christians and Jews. SPLC and defendants object to plaintiff exercising its First Amendment rights because SPLC and defendants disagree with plaintiff’s political viewpoints and the political viewpoints of those it defends in court.”
David Yerushalmi, senior counsel for the AFLC, said SPLC is “a fraudulent purveyor of hate claiming to be a non-profit public interest law firm.”
“What non-profit organization hoards hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and hides millions of dollars in secret, off-shore bank accounts? Non-profits are tax-exempt … there is no legitimate reason for SPLC to ship money to hidden overseas accounts. The Michigan attorney general has partnered with a nefarious organization, and AFLC’s lawsuit will expose this for the world to see.”
The lawsuit seeks a court declaration stopping the policy’s enforcement and declaring it unconstitutional.