ACLU Lawyer: ‘I Don’t Believe In Protecting Principle’ On Free Speech

ACLU Lawyer: ‘I Don’t Believe In Protecting Principle’ On Free Speech

'Though his ability to speak is protected by the First Amendment, I don't believe in protecting principle for the sake of principle in all cases.'

An American Civil Liberties Union lawyer is speaking out against the firm’s decision to represent alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in a lawsuit against Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

The ACLU is suing WMATA over advertising policies they say violate one’s First Amendment right to free speech. Transit officials yanked advertisements for Yiannopoulos’s book from its Metro cars. WMATA officials said the ads violated its advertising policies, which prohibits ads “intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions,” or that “intend to influence public policy.”

Ironically, Washington transit officials banned ads from the ACLU featuring text from the First Amendment translated into several languages. WMATA also banned ads from Carafem, an abortion provider hawking an abortifacient drug, and ads from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) encouraging people to eat vegan.

ACLU attorney Chase Strangio, who represented Chelsea Manning, took to Twitter Wednesday afternoon to decry the firm’s decision to represent the provocateur.

“Though his ability to speak is protected by the First Amendment, I don’t believe in protecting principle for the sake of principle in all cases,” Strangio wrote in a lengthy statement. “His actions have consequences.”

In a statement released Wednesday, the ACLU said that while it decries much of Yiannopoulos’s rhetoric as “anti-trans, anti-Black, anti-woman, and anti-Muslim,” they believe he has a constitutional right to say those things.

That speaks to a core premise of the First Amendment: If government can shut down one of those views, it can shut down all of them. And that would make it harder for any of us to engage in debate with the public and to try to change people’s minds about the issues that are dearest to our hearts.

Strangio disagrees: “The idea that the speech of Black Lives Matter is being defended through representation of someone like Milo is a farce in my view,” the attorney wrote.

After receiving some backlash via Twitter, Strangio threw a fit over all the “white dudes” mansplaining the Constitution.

Strangio’s mockery of white men is odd, as the attorney is white and poses as a male. It underscores the attorney’s obsession with race and gender, expressed in the statement that effectively says while everyone deserves equal rights and protection under the law, black people and trans individuals deserve it more than white men do.

Bre Payton is a staff writer at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter.
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