Conservatives Establish a Group to Counter ACLU: American Civil Rights Union Promises to Avoid Selected Defense of Liberal Bias

By Hallow, Ralph Z. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 9, 1998 | Go to article overview

Conservatives Establish a Group to Counter ACLU: American Civil Rights Union Promises to Avoid Selected Defense of Liberal Bias


Hallow, Ralph Z., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Former Attorney Gen. Edwin Meese III, Judge Robert Bork and other prominent conservatives have formed the American Civil Rights Union as a counterpart on the right to the American Civil Liberties Union.

"We want to do what the ACLU claims to do but doesn't always do," said Robert B. Carleson, chairman of the new rights group and a policy adviser in the first Reagan administration.

Mr. Meese, an ACRU policy board member, said the "new organization is needed to look out for all the civil rights contained in the Constitution rather than selected defense of those rights based on a liberal political bias."

Now a management consultant in San Diego, Mr. Carleson does not see his new organization as the "antithesis or the enemy" of the ACLU.

In fact, he says, the ACLU "does things right in some cases. But in other cases it not only does not defend the bill of rights, it opposes it."

He specifically criticized the ACLU for what he said was its support of efforts to prohibit the free exercise of religion, infringe the right to bear arms and violate double jeopardy protections by permitting state and federal trials for the same crime.

He also castigated the ACLU for its efforts to define the death penalty as "cruel and unusual punishment," even though the death penalty was common when the Bill of Rights was adopted. Mr. Carleson said the ACLU's support of "preferences and set-asides based on race, gender, or other group characteristics" have the effect of denying "to others the equal protection of the law."

Emily Whitfield, national ACLU spokeswoman, responded that the work of her organization has a "clear reputation of being nonpartisan."

She noted that the ACLU recently filed a case on behalf of the Christian Coalition and "defended Oliver North's Fifth Amendment right not to testify in the Iran-Contra hearings."

The ACLU, founded in 1920, has aroused political passions throughout its history. …

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