ACLU will no longer defend free speech rights of armed protestors

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Workers use a crane to lift the monument dedicated to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney after it was removed from outside the Maryland state Capitol in Annapolis early Friday. AP/Jose Luis Magana

While routinely denounced as a bastion of liberalism, the ACLU has often drawn leftist fire for its defense of the free speech rights of the radical right – on the theory that vilified speech is what the First Amendment is designed to protect.

Earlier this summer, for instance, the civil liberties group came to the defense of a Ku Klux Klan chapter that wanted to “adopt” a section of highway in Union County.

City officials in Charlottesville, Va., initially denied white supremacists a permit for their rally last weekend, but the ACLU filed a lawsuit defending their right to gather. However, in the aftermath of the Saturday violence, the ACLU has imposed a new limit on who it’s willing to defend. From the Los Angeles Times:

The national organization said Thursday that it would not represent white supremacist groups that want to demonstrate with guns. That stance is a new interpretation of the ACLU’s official position that reasonable gun regulation does not violate the 2nd Amendment.

A statement from the ACLU’s California office:

 “If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in activity protected by the United States Constitution,” the statement continued. “The 1st Amendment should never be used as a shield or sword to justify violence.”

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