The American Civil Liberties Asoociation has, over the years, done a lot of commendable work in defence of freedom. Particularly praiseworthy is its consistent defence of the First Amendment. It has frequently extended legal help to protect those whose free speech rights have been threatened. It has fought for the separation of the church and the state and argued for the decriminalization of drugs. For all that, it deserves our plaudits.
Unfortunately, the ACLU has been firmly opposed to other, equally fundamental, areas of freedom. It’s legal apparatus has ben used to file anti-discrimination claims against private clubs. The ACLU does not seem to recognize the fact that the so called ‘positive rights’ that it champions — for instance the ‘right’ of this woman to gain admittance into a social club — come only at the expense of the liberty of purely private organizations to operate in any way they wish. It is ironic that an organization that believes people should be allowed to say whatever they want does not believe that people should have the freedom to associate with whoever they want.
The ACLU has over 500,000 members and it has been influential in the evolution of constitutional law. Unfortunately, despite its name, it is not a libertarian organization and its influence has quite occasionally been used to curtail individual liberty. That is a sad truth.