Liberty Counsel is appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit against the online charity resource GuideStar alleging the non-profit legal group and other conservative organizations were defamed by a “hate group” designation that originated with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
A defender of traditional marriage, including in the same-sex marriage case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Liberty Counsel charged GuideStar violated the federal Lanham Act, as well as state statutes, by publishing false claims in a commercial setting.
Last month, a federal judge in Virginia rejected the complaint, ruling the SPLC designation did not meet the act’s requirement that the message in question have a commercial purpose. The judge concluded the SPLC “hate group” designation was “an informative statement” and “not commercial speech.”
WND takes you inside the “alt left” with an exclusive special report revealing the origins, motivations and future of America’s most widespread and active domestic terrorist group. Get your FREE copy of “Antifa: What Americans Need to Know about the Alt-Left.”
Liberty Council said Thursday it has filed a notice of appeal.
“That ruling is based on an incorrect view of the law and the allegations pled in the suit. When GuideStar placed the ‘hate group’ label on Liberty Counsel and more than 40 other nonprofit organizations, the same page solicited financial payments to enhance GuideStar membership,” Liberty Counsel said.
“Moreover, GuideStar intended to cause financial harm to Liberty Counsel and the other nonprofit groups. The 10-page ruling dismissing the Lanham Act claim includes very little analysis of the context and the words of GuideStar and its president, Harold Jacob. Moreover, at this stage of the case, the court must take all well-pled allegations as true, which it did not appear to do.”
It was the far-left SPLC that famously labeled surgeon and conservative Dr. Ben Carson, now HUD secretary, as a “hater” because of his Christian worldview.
Liberty Counsel said its lawsuit “challenges GuideStar over its false and defamatory ‘hate group’ label that it placed on GuideStar’s Liberty Counsel page.”
SPLC also was the source of the information Floyd Corkins used to target the Family Research Council with a mass-murder attempt at the Christian organization’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. Corkins was foiled by a security officer, but SPLC was formally linked to domestic terror in a federal court case.
The group routinely lashes out at any organization that opposes abortion, transgenderism or other left-wing causes, publicly calling them “haters.”
SPLC has exhibited behavior so egregious that it was reprimanded by the far-left administration of Barack Obama.
Judicial Watch, citing a letter to Michael M. Hethmon, senior counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, and others, said the DOJ reprimand came in 2016 but was “kept quiet at the agency’s request.”
“[It] involves the SPLC’s atrocious behavior during immigration court proceedings. Two groups that oppose illegal immigration, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), were the target of personal, baseless and below-the-belt attacks from SPLC attorneys during official immigration court proceedings. The SPLC filed a motion attacking and defaming the two respected nonprofits by describing them as ‘white supremacist,’ ‘eugenicist,’ ‘anti-Semitic,’ and ‘anti-Catholic.’ In its reprimand the DOJ says it is troubled by the conduct of SPLC lawyer Christopher Strawn and that his conduct ‘overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional,'” the report said.
Now, SPLC’s slandering of groups that promote traditional American values has generated a petition for the group to face justice.
Columnist Tom DeWeese at American Policy said there are a couple of reasons why the SPLC is so dangerous.
First, he explained, the SPLC contracts with the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to advise on domestic terrorism.
For example, a 2009 DHS report, “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” was basically written by SPLC.
The report singles out groups that oppose abortion or illegal immigration.
As with others over the years, the report was sent to law enforcement agencies across the nation, resulting in police departments issuing bulletins to their officers “to be on the watch for dangerous right-wing activity,” DeWeese said.
SPLC also has organized a working group to “teach local law enforcement how to counter terrorism,” but one member is Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America, “who has been accused of funding terrorist organizations,” DeWeese pointed out.
The second reason SPLC is a dangerous threat to American freedom is its so-called “Hate List,” DeWeese said.
“Each year, the SPLC updates its list of ‘extremist’ groups and individuals it declares to be dangerous. Does the list include Black Lives Matter … ANTIFA, or any of the forces that have taken credit for opening fire on crowds attending public events? Nope. SPLC’s list of hate groups are those who oppose Obamacare and NAFTA, are concerned about the economy, and perhaps stockpile food to prepare for possible bad economic times. These are ‘Right Wing Extremists.’ The list goes on to include people like Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, and Sen. Rand Paul. … The list also includes nearly any conservative and Christian organizations that advocate limited government or Christian teachings or government adherence to the Constitution,” he wrote.
DeWeese is calling for the “leftist outfit” to be investigated by the congressional Homeland Security Committee, and an online petition has been posted for people to join in the request.
Addressed to Chairman Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, the petition states: “It appears SPLC is abusing ties to the Department of Homeland Security to threaten and accuse pro-Constitution groups and activists across the nation of potential domestic terrorism. For example, SPLC and DHS documents they have influenced, have so labeled many who simply advocate constitutional government; opposition to abortion; and opposition to various economic programs. It appears that federal funds have been used for this activity.”
The groups smeared by SPLC, consequently, could be denied their First Amendment rights, the petition argues.
“SPLC has already incorporated such unsubstantiated and outrageous charges in reports published by DHS, including the ‘Domestic Extremism Lexicon;’ a 2009 report by the Missouri Fusion Center; and through the DHS’ Countering Violent Extremism Working Group, to name a few examples,” the petition states. “Such charges are a dangerous threat to individual freedom and an abuse of government funds against loyal and law-abiding American citizens.”
The petition seeks an “immediate investigation into the activities of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), its ties to the Department of Homeland Security, and its tax-exempt status.”
Last September, WND reported 47 conservative leaders urged members of the media across America to stop using “hit pieces” from SPLC.
The leaders included Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, Edwin Meese of the Heritage Foundation, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William Boykin of the Family Research Council, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and Michael Farris of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Frank Gaffney and Clare Lopez of the Center for Security Policy, Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, Frank Wright of D. James Kennedy Ministries, Scott Walter of the Capital Research Center, David Barton of WallBuilders, David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, Martin Mawyer of the Christian Action Network, Tim Wildmon and Sandy Rios of the American Family Association, and Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of WND.com
An announcement about the letter charged SPLC “has recklessly labeled dozens of mainstream conservative organizations as ‘hate groups.'”
The letter states: “We are writing to you as individuals or as representatives of organizations who are deeply troubled by several recent examples of the media’s use of data from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC is a discredited, left-wing, political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a ‘hate group’ label of its own invention and application that is not only false and defamatory, but that also endangers the lives of those targeted with it.”
Last June, SPLC supporter James Hodgkinson shot Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.; Zach Barth, a staff member for Rep. Roger Williams; former congressional staff member Matt Mika; and two U.S. Capitol Police officers at a practice for a charity baseball game.