The ACLU makes life uncomfortable for Democrats

  • 9 May 2019
  • NormanL

Some in the media are worried that one of their long-time allies, the American Civil Liberties Union, is deliberately handing the president fodder for his re-election campaign. The ACLU's sin? Asking the gaggle of Demcoratic presidential candidates questions about issues the ACLU cares about:

...the American Civil Liberties Union, which is coaching part of a multimillion-dollar, below-the-radar campaign to get the 2020 candidates on record about its civil liberties priorities. In Hanover, N.H., an ACLU-linked voter got Kamala Harris’ commitment to support adding a third-gender marker on federal ID cards. The group is also putting Democratic hopefuls on the spot with sensitive questions about immigration and abortion rights.

Each of the exchanges has been captured on video and posted to YouTube, and the answers largely reflect a Democratic primary field that’s veering further left. But the ACLU is making that shift happen far more quickly and visibly than it might have otherwise — to the apparent delight of Trump and his supporters.

It may delight the president's supporters. But we're also not inclined to give politicians of any party a pass on tough questions. That the ACLU is taking heat from the left for getting would-be presidential nominees on record tells us more about the desire to buffalo the electorate than anything else.

Fortunately, the ACLU agrees:

Ronald Newman, the ACLU’s national political director, said it isn’t his job to worry about the political firestorm. He held up Sanders’ answer in Iowa as a model of what the group is trying to accomplish: to inject its priorities into the political bloodstream and, over time, sway public opinion.

Along with the incarcerated voting query, the ACLU is asking candidates for specific proposals to cut the federal prison population by 50 percent, end the use of detainers, reduce immigration detention by 75 percent and lift the Hyde Amendment and other government bans on insurance coverage of abortion.

In Las Vegas, Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro — who during an earlier stop in Concord, N.H., had agreed to back phasing out the detention of immigrant families seeking asylum or refugee status — said local law enforcement shouldn’t act as pseudoimmigration agents for the federal government.

ACLU staffers and volunteers have pushed several candidates on ending cash bail, expanding voting registration opportunities and making Election Day a federal holiday. Candidates Kirsten Gillibrand and Beto O’Rourke separately agreed to support a third-gender classification at the federal level, joining Harris.

We would hope and expect all interest groups, left and right, would follow a similar path - asking tough questions, more than once if no answer is given, and sticking to its agenda. That's why people support such organizations -- to advance a set of ideas, regardless of which party's candidates holds an office.