The American Civil Liberties Union is famously left-wing in its view of our society and how the legal organization believes our country should function, but one thing is certain: When it comes to the First Amendment, the ACLU is fairly inconsistent.
On the one hand, the group opposes public prayer demonstrations by, say, a high school football coach who was let go after he led voluntary prayers on the field following games. Then, out of left field, so to speak, the ACLU is coming out in support of allowing former President Donald Trump back on social media platforms after previous bans.
“This is the right call. Like it or not, President Trump is one of the country’s leading political figures and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech,” wrote the ACLU, a group that has increasingly shifted leftward in recent years, on Twitter in response to a New York Times article about Trump’s reinstatement to Facebook and Instagram.
This is the right call. Like it or not, President Trump is one of the country’s leading political figures and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech. https://t.co/PbY8AevFDy
— ACLU (@ACLU) January 26, 2023
According to The Epoch Times:
Jameel Jaffer, the head of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and a former American Civil Liberties Union official, also defended the move. Previously, Jaffer said he supported social media platforms’ ban on Trump’s accounts.
“This is the right call–not because the former president has any right to be on the platform but because the public has an interest in hearing directly from candidates for political office,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “It’s better if the major social media platforms err on the side of leaving speech up, even if the speech is offensive or false, so that it can be addressed by other users and other institutions.”
The ACLU’s executive director, Anthony Romero, also praised Meta for reinstating Trump.
“Indeed, some of Trump’s most offensive social media posts ended up being critical evidence in lawsuits filed against him and his administration. And we should know—we filed over 400 legal actions against him. While the government cannot force platforms to carry certain speech, that doesn’t mean the largest platforms should engage in political censorship,” Romero said in a statement to news outlets last week after the Times report.
“The biggest social media companies are central actors when it comes to our collective ability to speak—and hear the speech of others—online. They should err on the side of allowing a wide range of political speech, even when it offends,” he added.
Nick Clegg, a Meta official, said last week that Trump would be allowed back on but that he would have to follow the platforms’ rules.
“Like any other Facebook or Instagram user, Mr. Trump is subject to our Community Standards. In light of his violations, he now also faces heightened penalties for repeat offenses—penalties which will apply to other public figures whose accounts are reinstated from suspensions related to civil unrest under our updated protocol,” Clegg said.
Trump has indicated he has no interest in returning to other platforms after launching his own, Truth Social.