Former ACLU Director Sounds Off, Slams Organization for Pursuing Woke Politics

Former ACLU Director Sounds Off, Slams Organization for Pursuing Woke Politics

The former long-serving director of the American Civil Liberties Union took aim at the organization Friday evening during an appearance on HBO’s “Real Time” with Bill Maher, accusing it of having been transformed into little more than another ‘woke’ group pursuing progressive political objectives at the expense of its founding mission.

Ira Glasser, who led the ACLU from 1978 to 2001, told Maher the organization has morphed into a “political partisan, progressive organization” rather than a staunch defender of free speech in all of its forms. What’s more, he says the leftist legal group now takes a gatekeeper approach to deciding what cases to litigate.

“They just produced a couple of years ago new guidelines for lawyers in deciding what free speech cases to take. This is a requirement now for the national ACLU lawyers that before they take a case defending someone’s free speech, they have to make sure that the speech doesn’t offend or threaten other civil liberties values,” he said.

“In other words, before they’re gonna defend your free speech, they want to see what you say…what is the ACLU doing saying that?” Glasser continued.

Maher observed that, in reference to the ACLU, “your value is free speech.”

BizPac Review notes further:

In an extreme example of advocating for unpopular causes, Maher recalled how in 1977 the ACLU even defended a group of neo-Nazis who sought to march in Skokie, Ill., in a case that went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I’m guessing the Nazis did not reflect your values,” Maher quipped.

“That’s a good guess,” Glasser joked in response, adding: “Actually, most of the speech we defended didn’t reflect our values…That’s the point.”

By the time he had retired, Glasser said he had “transformed the American Civil Liberties Union from a ‘mom and pop’-style operation concentrated mainly in a few large cities to a nationwide civil liberties powerhouse.”

“Organizations have a right to change, but the problem is, there isn’t any other ACLU,” he continued.

“And if there isn’t somebody who is prepared to defend what you say, and prepared to defend what the Nazis say, and prepared to defend what people for abortion say, and are prepared to defend what people who are against abortion say, then the government gets to decide who can speak, and that’s the most dangerous thing of all,” Glasser noted.

“If you’re hiring a lawyer to defend the First Amendment, you want to have a reasonable assumption that he likes the First Amendment. That he supports the First Amendment,” Glasser continued, citing the ACLU’s founding philosophy in the context of how the organization operates today.

The ACLU has been shape-shifting for some time, however, as Reason magazine notes; the ACLU favors medical ID but not voter ID.

The [ACLU] has “waged war on the concept of voter ID laws—the idea that you should have to provide a photo ID in order to vote…But when it comes to vaccine passports—a roughly equivalent restriction on people’s civil liberties—the ACLU has not denounced them. On the contrary, it wholeheartedly supports them,” the magazine noted.

Last fall, as Biz Pac Review noted, the ACLU came out against Loudoun County, Va., school teachers who refused to refer to students by their chosen gender rather than their actual gender.

“The ACLU is taking the side of people that are looking to control the speech of teachers…We’ve lost free speech if we’ve lost the ACLU,” Fox News host Will Cain noted at the time.

In addition, the organization got caught altering a quote from the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to make it more ‘gender neutral.’

“Having spent time with Justice Ginsburg, I would like to believe that if she were alive today, she would encourage us to evolve our language to encompass a broader vision of gender, identity and sexuality,” current executive director Anthony Romero said in trying to justify the chicanery.


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