Obama Given Low Marks In Annual ACLU Report For Civil Liberties — Ranked Lower Than Paul

While this is unlikely to surprise many civil libertarians, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has issued its annual report card called “Liberty Watch 2012” and gave President Obama a failing report (earning the full four “torches” only on the issue of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy). The Republican candidates were equally dismal but it is rare for the Democratic candidate to be on par or lower than his GOP counterparts on civil liberties. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson secured the top civil liberties spot while Republican Ron Paul came in second ahead of Obama.

The only category on which Obama did particularly well was on his support in ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” even though he remains undecided on the issue of same sex marriage. He lost points for breaking promises on Guantanamo Bay, surveillance of citizens, failing to hold employees accountable for torture and other issues — many of which we have discussed on this blog.

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann all received zero torches in all seven categories. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry did slightly better due to their opposition to wholesale deportations. Paul’s score was reduced for his call to end “birthright citizenship” for children of illegal immigrants and his support for a denial of federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples as well as his opposition to abortion. Obama came in third after Johnson and Paul. After Paul in the Republican ranks, Jon Huntsman did the best.

The low standing of Obama is particularly difficult for civil libertarians since he is the only candidate offered to Democrats this year. As I have previously written, Obama in my view has proven devastating for the civil liberties movement in the United States. His candidacy remains a triumph of personality over principles — decoupling the Democratic party from long-held values on civil liberties.

Here is the full report: ALWCandidateReportCard-1

Source: SF Gate

46 thoughts on “Obama Given Low Marks In Annual ACLU Report For Civil Liberties — Ranked Lower Than Paul”

  1. ** saying a decision is valid is not the same thing as saying it is a good decision.

    That’s what posting with too little sleep will get you.

  2. OLBERMANN: What can be done? I mean, legally, what now holds the corporations back from completely taking over the electoral process, 99.9 percent of advertising, 99.9 percent of winning politicians, no limit to the ante, and no limit to what they want to do, including eliminating the First Amendment, if that was one of their goals for some reason?

    TURLEY: Well, I think you’re right to be alarmed. I mean, there’s only about 2,000 PACs that are created under the old system. That old system really has been shredded today. There are millions of companies and corporations that could — could now directly support this political system.
    But I have to tell you, I have long argued that we are in need of more fundamental reforms. Campaign finance primarily looks at the fuel, rather than the machine, itself. I think that we have a political failure in this country, a monopoly by two parties that is strangling the life out of this republic. And I think that we need to, perhaps, with this decision, look for something of a paradigm shift, to look at how we can change our political system with very fundamental issues to deal with — everything from the Electoral College, which is a disaster, to the monopoly of the two parties, to the hold of incumbents.

    Professor Turley’s comments start at the 3:30 mark:


    Gary, thinking a decision is valid as matter of logic and legal reasoning is not the same thing as thinking a decision is a good idea politically. As the Professor notes in the interview, nothing in the Constitution protects us from bad politics and bad decisions. While Professor Turley and I disagree about whether this was a logically valid decision (I think the idea of expanded personality for corporations in the area of free speech is ridiculous), I also think it is clear from his comments in context that we agree that Citizens United was a bad decision politically that will yield bad results. Of course, I would welcome any clarification on the Professor’s part, but I don’t think I’m out of bounds when I say that saying a valid decision is the same thing as being a good decision.

  3. The better half or I have been card carrying members off and on since the 70’s. We dropped out for a while and then read that the participation was dropping due to their advocacy of the Nazis that wanted to march through Skoki so we re-joined and have been pretty loyal as money and periodic political apathy allows.

    They got it wrong in this high profile case IMO. I wish they hadn’t but you know, I have such great respect for the organization and they have been so in tune with my philosophy for so long (and taught me much), that in the face of their advocacy I had to re-examine MY position to insure that I had my head on straight. I’m way hard-headed. I am not compelled to a lot of reflection on long held belief because some advocacy group thinks differently than I do. Unless it becomes a pattern of bad decisions I will consider it an aberration.

    They have a sterling track record and my support of them is still strong.

  4. I repeat: “Who else is in the courts every day fighting for the civil liberties of ALL of us?”

    Hint: It ain’t Barack Obama and it ain’t Eric Holder.

    As to the objections of Ernest Spoon and gbk that the ACLU isn’t right on every case: No one sneers at Ted Williams for “only” batting .406 in 1941.

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