The American Civil Liberties Union once deserved respect. The organization got a lot of issues wrong, but it consistently backed civil liberties.
Today the ACLU appears to be just another left-wing interest group. Civil liberties deserve protection if they’re favored by the left. Free speech for conservatives? Not so much.
Many of the Founders saw no need for what became known as the Bill of Rights. After all, they said, the Constitution gave the federal government only limited authority. Why forbid action that isn’t allowed?
However, those who insisted on adding the Bill of Rights proved prescient. It didn’t take long for politicians to claim and judges to rule that there was an ocean of federal government power with only a few islands of state authority and individual liberty.
Today freedoms not safeguarded by the Bill of Rights essentially don’t exist. The current Supreme Court occasionally limits Uncle Sam’s reach, but those opinions, unfortunately, are the exception rather than the rule.
Judges need to give the Bill of Rights full effect to protect Americans. For the First Amendment that means safeguarding religious liberty and free speech. The truest test of these provisions comes when they are applied to views and practices which are unpopular, even reviled, by those in power.