The Disintegration of the ACLU

James Kirchick in Tablet:

Think of the American Civil Liberties Union during the last two decades of the 20th century, and a certain type of person invariably comes to mind: shrewd, thick-skinned, and possessed of an unwavering—some might say irritating—commitment to principle. The men and women of the ACLU were liberals in the most honorable, but increasingly obsolescent, meaning of the term. They understood that the measure of democracy lies in the impartial application of its laws, and were prepared to defend anyone whose constitutional rights were trampled upon, irrespective of their political views or the repercussions that mounting such a defense might entail.

The archetypical ACLU figure was also often Jewish, as immortalized in the 2003 Onion story, “ACLU Defends Nazis’ Right to Burn Down ACLU Headquarters.” That joke was based upon the real-life case of National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, wherein the organization represented a group of neo-Nazis who were denied a permit to march through a Chicago suburb that was home to a significant number of Jewish Holocaust survivors.

More here.