Five years ago, Dustin Inman Society (DIS) Founder and President D.A. King didn’t know how he would be forced to deal with smears against his organization from the Southern Poverty Law Center, but that didn’t stop him from filing a landmark lawsuit against one of the biggest anti-Christian, anti-conservative organizations in the nation.
“I’m proud that we constructed a factual complaint that the judge observed ‘the plaintiff has the best argument,’” King told The Federalist. “All we did in the complaint was outline some — not all — of the facts of the case.”
The SPLC is known for tarnishing organizations with Christian missions or conservative ties by disseminating its 1,225-organization-long “hate group” list to Democrat allies in Congress, Big Tech, and woke corporations. The leftist activist organization has also gained infamy in recent years for galvanizing a Virginia man to attack the Family Research Council and the behavior of its staff, like lawyer Thomas Webb Jurgens, who faces domestic terrorism charges for targeting an Atlanta police training facility with rocks and incendiaries.
An analysis of White House visitor logs by The Daily Signal shows SPLC staff have met with President Joe Biden and members of his cabinet nearly a dozen times since he took office. It was mere months after the SPLC’s latest meeting at the executive mansion that it dubbed a dozen grassroots parents’ rights organizations as hate groups.
Until the SPLC openly committed to continuing the Biden regime’s crusade against concerned parents like those at Moms For Liberty, King said he believed his lawsuit was the only opportunity that “normal Americans and conservatives have to show the world who the Southern Poverty Law Center really is.”
In his defamation case brought against the SPLC, King argued that the SPLC did not conduct a “meaningful fact finding or investigation” before dubbing his organization a hate group for “vilifying all immigrants” in the SPLC’s 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 annual Intelligence Report magazine.
King also noted that the SPLC was “aware of Mr. King’s documented history of opposing only ‘illegal immigration’ through the ‘enforcement of immigration laws’ and of not opposing legal immigration” and even “explicitly stated” that DIS was not a “hate group” in 2011.
Yet, the SPLC repeatedly refused to rescind its characterization of DIS as an “anti-immigrant hate group” because it is “an expression of opinion protected under the First Amendment” and “not capable of being empirically proven true or false.”
Judge William Keith Watkins of the U.S. District Court for Alabama’s Middle District wasn’t buying it and denied the SPLC’s attempt to dismiss King’s case. In a memorandum opinion issued in April, Watkins confirmed that the radical organization, which still boasts of being and is “widely accepted” as the preeminent national database that tracks “hate groups,” nullifies the SPLC’s claims that its words do not constitute an attack on DIS.
The judge’s decision, King recalled, was “one of the happiest calls I’ve ever received.”
“If the SPLC was not supported and propelled by the mainstream, traditional media, they would just be another hate-mongering, money-making organization,” King said.
The Right Stones
As the SPLC admitted in its defense, there was no factual basis for calling DIS an “anti-immigrant hate group.” So now it’s up to King and DIS to use that to their advantage.
“We have been defending immigrants here from the label of being mixed up with what are illegal aliens. We have been saying for years that we can’t honor real immigrants like my adopted sister, by the way, unless we do what Barbara Jordan told Congress we should do and that is not mix up immigrants with illegal aliens,” King said.
Managing the fight against the SPLC hasn’t been easy for King or DIS. To keep the case alive, King has not only solicited a trickle of GoFundMe donations but personally financed part of the legal battle.
“We have taken a Barbara Jordan approach to a pro-enforcement position on immigration and for our trouble, we have been labeled a bunch of nasty names. It is clearly defamation with intent. It’s clearly actual malice, in my mind, and I intend to go to court to prove it,” King said.
Now armed with new legal counsel, which recognizes the SPLC as intending to “‘destroy’ groups with which it disagrees,” King just awaits a court date so he can showcase the SPLC’s resolve to lump legitimate faith and conservative organizations into the same category as real threats like the Ku Klux Klan.
“I’m sure if we win, Southern Poverty Law Center will use their vast holdings to file an appeal, but I’m trying to clear my own name and those of the people on our board, including the immigrants on our board, and get some kind of justice out of this,” King said.
One of those immigrant board members, Mary Grabar, calls DIS’s fight against the SPLC “truly a David and Goliath thing.”
“To me, you know, the SPLC is a despicable organization that’s just a big smear machine,” she told The Federalist, noting that the SPLC has millions to throw at legal battles like this one.
“The SPLC needs to be seen for what they are,” she added. “They are not a source of legitimate information. They are not a charity. They do not do the work of a 501(c)(3). It is a political machine.”
The SPLC is allowed to be critical, but Grabar said, “[O]nce you start distorting what people say, you’re getting out of legitimate discourse.”
“In order to survive, the SPLC is casting its net wider and wider and going after conservatives and people who just want to uphold the law, which is what D.A. wants to do,” Grabar said. “I’ve known D.A. since I met him around 2004, and he does not deserve any of this. He is someone who is welcoming to everybody and stands up for legal immigration. He’s a very brave man.”
Others have tried and failed to bring cases against the SPLC but King, Grabar, and the rest of the DIS board aren’t giving up.
“If we get a chance to tell this to a jury, I’m confident that they will think the same. I think that is why we have gotten as far as we have,” King said.