What Others Are Saying about Alliance Defending Freedom

Ruchika Budhraja Facebook spokeswoman

Alliance for Defending Freedom isn’t a hate group under our policies. Belief in the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman wouldn’t, in and of itself, go against our policies – people’s positions on ideas, institutions, concepts aren’t something we restrict; it’s when those positions amount to attacks on people, that our policies kick in.

Ruchika Budhraja, Conservatives Rest Assured: Facebook's 'Hate' Policing Is Far Different from the SPLC, PJ Media (March 29, 2019) · Source

Nadine Strossen former President of the American Civil Liberties Union

As the former President of the American Civil Liberties Union, I have been on the opposite side from Alliance Defending Freedom on many important issues, including issues of LGBT rights.  Indeed, the ACLU and ADF represented the opposing parties in the significant recent Masterpiece Cake Shop case, decided by the US Supreme Court in 2018 (the ACLU represented the gay couple seeking to purchase a wedding cake, and ADF represented the baker who declined to provide it to them due to his religious objections to same-sex marriage).  Yet the ACLU and ADF also share important common ground on the crucial issue of free speech, and we have collaborated in defending this treasured liberty.  We agree that all of us should combat all ideas, even those we consider hateful or hated, not with censorship, but with more speech. Indeed, we regularly counter some of each others’ ideas in just this way.

An organization whose overall work I admire and support, the Southern Poverty Law Center, has labeled ADF a “hate group.”  I respectfully dissent from this label.  While I of course enthusiastically support the right to strongly condemn any ideas, including particular ideas that ADF advocates, I oppose such a condemnatory blanket classification, because of its stifling impact; it suppresses conversations we need to have and voices that should be heard.  For the same reason, I have opposed efforts by government officials and other critics of the Black Lives Matter movement to designate BLM as a hate group, including efforts to have SPLC designate it as such. I should note my parallel dissent from conclusory, reductive, stigmatizing labels that some SPLC critics hurl at it.

At this time of great polarization, it is advantageous for every cause to work with individuals or groups when specific shared goals can be more effectively advanced through such alliances, even if we work against each others’ goals on other issues.  Such selective collaboration is also positive on a personal level, because it gives us the opportunity to diversify our human relationships.  Just as it is life- enhancing to interact meaningfully with people of diverse identities, the same positive benefit flows from meaningful interactions with people who have divergent ideas and beliefs.

I consider ADF to be a valuable ally on important issues of common concern, and a worthy adversary (not an “enemy”) on important issues of disagreement; what I do not consider it to be, considering the full scope of its work, is a “hate group.”

Edwin Meese III former U.S. Attorney General

So where did this scurrilous [“hate group”] charge originate? With the Southern Poverty Law Center, which labels the ADF a “hate group.” The designation had nothing to do with the law firm’s policies or behavior. It’s just that the SPLC objects to its traditional views on the Constitution, the First Amendment and the meaning of marriage. No responsible media outlet should parrot the SPLC’s hate list without seeking to understand not only its motives but also the consequences of spreading false charges.

Edwin Meese III, The Latest ‘Hate’ Smear Target Is a Civil-Rights Group, Wall Street Journal (July 19, 2017) · Source

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein Military Religious Freedom Foundation Founder and President

Our work often brings us into direct conflict with another group—Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Frankly, we disagree with ADF's positions on almost everything in law and policy. For years we’ve crossed swords and fought for our respective opposing views. But it is one thing to fight for ideals, and it’s another to marginalize and suppress others—even those you vehemently disagree with. And that is what’s happening when ADF is branded a “hate” group and thrown out of the Amazon Smile program.

… In my long years of fighting for what’s Constitutionally right, I’ve come to personally know several senior ADF lawyers extremely well. Their religiously-based legal positions, I and MRFF TOTALLY reject. However, their integrity, compassion, character, empathy, honor, and concern for their fellow humans I will steadfastly affirm. I have seen it and I have lived it. As seemingly incomprehensible as it may seem, sometimes hell actually DOES freeze over. I consider them dear friends and I assure you that I don’t use that term lightly.

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (May 7, 2018) · Source

Jeff Sessions former U.S. Attorney General

[W]hen I spoke to ADF last year, I learned that the Southern Poverty Law Center had classified ADF as a “hate group.” Many in the media simply parroted it as fact. Amazon relied solely on the SPLC designation and removed ADF from its Smile program, which allows customers to donate to charities.

They have used this designation as a weapon and they have wielded it against conservative organizations that refuse to accept their orthodoxy and choose instead to speak their conscience. They use it to bully and intimidate groups like yours which fight for the religious freedom, the civil rights, and the constitutional rights of others.

You and I may not agree on everything—but I wanted to come back here tonight partly because I wanted to say this: you are not a hate group.

Department of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks at the Alliance Defending Freedom's Summit on Religious Liberty (Aug. 8, 2018) · Source

Charles Grassley U.S. Senator (Iowa)

Professor Barrett, and a few other nominees, have a relationship with or ties to the Alliance Defending Freedom group, which, as several Senators have recently pointed out, has been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Now, the nominees have pointed out that the SPLC’s designation is highly controversial. I’d say it’s completely unfounded. The Alliance Defending Freedom is an advocacy organization that litigates religious liberty cases. They’ve won 7 cases in front of the Supreme Court the past 7 years. They’re not outside the mainstream.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, Statement at Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting (October 5, 2017) · Source

James Lankford U.S. Senator (Oklahoma)

SPLC’s definition of a “hate group” is overly broad and not based in fact or legal accuracy. The Alliance Defending Freedom is a national and reputable law firm that works to advocate for the rights of people to peacefully and freely speak, live and work according to their faith and conscience without threat of government punishment.

In this country, we have the ability and freedom to disagree. However, disagreement is not the same as discrimination and it's not the same as hate. As journalists and members of the government, we have responsibility to distinguish between the two. Labeling ADF a "hate group" feeds into a narrative that the news media frequently editorializes beyond the facts. This ultimately harms American trust in the press.

Those of us who have the responsibility to lead public discourse should carefully choose our words so that we encourage open debate, rather than demeaning our fellow Americans because of their differences in policy, faith, family or point of view.

Senator James Lankford Letter to ABC News (July 31, 2017) · Source

Marc Thiessen columnist and political commentator at The Washington Post

The Alliance Defending Freedom is a respected organization of conservative lawyers dedicated to defending religious liberty, and it just argued a case before the Supreme Court, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It won, 7 to 2. It is not a “hate group.” If anything, it is fighting anti-Christian hate.

Marc Thiessen, The Southern Poverty Law Center has lost all credibility, The Washington Post (June 22, 2018) · Source

Karl Zinsmeister American Journalist and Researcher

Take the charity known as the Alliance Defending Freedom. The SPLC lists them as a “hate group.” Is that fair? Well, the ADF has a network of 3,000 attorneys from all across the U.S. who’ve donated more than a million volunteer hours in defense of religious liberty. They’ve had a role in 49 victories at the U.S. Supreme Court. Putting the Alliance Defending Freedom on a list with 130 Ku Klux Klan chapters is not only wrong, it’s malicious.

Karl Zinsmeister, PragerU The ‘Anti-Hate’ Group that is a Hate Group (Oct. 12, 2017) · Source

Orrin Hatch U.S. Senator (Utah)

ADF’s legal work is widely respected. ADF has been an effective advocate for its views on religious liberty and free speech cases. Empirical SCOTUS, which ranks Supreme Court advocates, said that ADF was the most effective firm over the last five years [2013-18] based on its 4-0 record. These wins came in important cases like Masterpiece Cakeshop and Trinity Lutheran. In fact, in the last seven years, ADF has won nine cases in the Supreme Court. Now that’s a pretty good indication to me that they are defending mainstream views. Attempts to discredit nominees because of connections to ADF have failed. If tried again, they will fail again.

Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Allison Jones Rushing C-SPAN video (Oct. 17, 2018) · Source

Mark Pulliam American Writer and Legal Commentator

The long-simmering controversy over SPLC tactics boiled over in July [2017], when ABC News reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had delivered a speech in California to an “anti-LGBT hate group”— the religious-liberty advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom—based solely on the SPLC’s designation. Many conservative publications criticized ABC and other news outlets for repeating the SPLC’s slur of a respected nonprofit that has litigated—and won—numerous cases before the Supreme Court. ADF is a legal organization, no different from the American Civil Liberties Union, except that it defends traditional Christian beliefs shared by millions of Americans.

Mark Pulliam, A Demagogic Bully, City Journal (July 27, 2017) · Source

Ján Figel’ Special Envoy for promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU

Sadly, religious freedom is declining in many countries of the world. Without it, all other human rights erode. Because all human beings have inherent dignity, their innermost belief is worthy of protection. The freedom of religion is a litmus test for a free and just society and for good governance. I am grateful for the diligent and effective work of ADF International to advance freedom of religion and conscience across the globe.