American Civil Rights Union
The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) positions itself as the conservative alternative to the “radical, leftist” ACLU. The ACRU “monitors and counters organizations that threaten our Constitutional rights. It files amicus briefs in critical civil rights cases, and defends the Constitution in print and broadcast media and on the internet.”
One of the ACRU’s most prolific writers is Senior Fellow Robert Knight, who surveyed American culture in January of 2014 and concluded, “We are not yet the world’s Great Satan, as our militant Muslim enemies falsely describe us, but we might consider asking our ruling elites in Hollywood, New York and Washington to give the mullahs less evidence for that claim.” The reason, Knight explained while approvingly quoting Vladimir Putin’s opinion on gay rights, is that the “moral meltdown” of American culture has turned the U.S. into a “nuclear-waste dump.”
Another Robert Knight column criticized Hillary Clinton’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, accusing her of endorsing corporations that push “the quasi-religious culture of death… [that] reflects the religious sensibilities of the priests of Baal or the rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah.” And in January 2014, Knight suggested that “Evolution is at the core of a left-wing, secular, humanist worldview that has been breathing down everybody’s necks in America for years… That leads to terrible things like socialism and communism and fascism and Nazism…” and suggested that Republicans should run against evolution in the 2014 elections.
It wasn’t the group’s first comparison of liberalism and Nazism. Peter Ferrara, a former Reagan official, is the group’s general counsel. In an amicus brief filed to the Supreme Court, Ferrara compared those who criticize opponents of LGBT-equality to Nazi “Brown Shirts seeking to force their way through thuggery and violent intimidation.”
The ACRU has deep roots in the modern conservative movement – five of the eight members of its leadership team served in the Reagan administration, and the organization was founded by Robert Carleson, who worked for Ronald Reagan in both California and D.C. ACRU focuses on conservative interpretations of a litany of issues central to that conservatism: religious liberty, freedom of association, gun rights, economic liberty, and election integrity. In service to this agenda, ACRU laments “diversity gone berserk,” defends discrimination against LGBT Americans, rallies against an “out of control” EPA, and extolls the virtues of Voter ID laws.
The organization typically receives more than $2 million in grants annually from a variety of conservative donors. The Bradley Foundation, a conservative organization whose donations rival that of the Koch Brothers, is a frequent donor to ACRU.