60 groups consider suing Southern Poverty Law Center after it pays $3.4 M in defamation settlement
June 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A $3.375 million defamation settlement and public apology may be just the beginning of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) woes.
Following the news that the self-proclaimed “civil rights” watchdog had admitted defeat in a defamation suit brought by the British-based Quilliam Foundation, a group opposed to Muslim extremism, dozens of other organizations are reportedly considering legal action of their own.
"There are probably about 60 organizations that we're talking to — there's at least 60," Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the pro-family legal nonprofit Liberty Counsel, told PJ Media. While Liberty Counsel itself has yet to file anything against SPLC, Staver noted that the left-wing group has “been doing to a lot of organizations exactly what they did to [Quilliam founder] Maajid Nawaz that's part of the settlement.”
Staver noted that the settlement was particularly significant because SPLC surrendered to a demand letter rather than forcing the case to be litigated.
SPLC claims its mission is to monitor “hate groups and other extremists.” But while it does identify some actual racist organizations on the fringes of American politics, many of its targets are mainstream Christian, pro-family, and conservative groups. It originally labeled Quilliam and Nawaz as “anti-Muslim extremists” for criticizing specific Islamic groups and practices, but was forced to admit the group “condemn[s] both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism.”
“Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate groups, I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, completely destroy them,” former SPLC spokesman Mark Potok has said. He has also admitted that the group’s definition of “hate group” has “nothing to do with criminality, or violence, or any kind of guess we're making about 'this group could be dangerous.' It's strictly ideological.”
SPLC’s campaigns have gotten the online donation processing service Vanco (which is affiliated with Wells Fargo) to cut ties with the Ruth Institute, a pro-children think tank critical of the Sexual Revolution; convinced the charity monitor GuideStar to label 46 conservative organizations, including the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American College of Pediatricians (ACP), as “hate groups”; inspired “hard news” reports from ABC, NBC, and others to identify the religious liberty firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as a “hate group”; and more.
Last August, D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJMK), formerly known as Coral Ridge Ministries, filed a defamation suit against SPLC for applying the “hate” label to it as well. Floyd Lee Corkins, the man who shot a FRC security guard and intended to kill more staffers for being “anti-gay” in 2013, said SPLC’s “hate map” helped him select a target. CNN promoted the map in 2017 anyway. James Hodgkinson, who shot House Republican Whip Steve Scalise last summer, followed SPLC on Facebook (SPLC condemned both crimes).
Though Liberty Counsel has yet to take legal action against SPLC directly, it has filed a federal lawsuit against GuideStar for labeling it a “hate group” on SPLC’s recommendation. “The only purpose of providing the SPLC false and dangerous ‘hate group’ label is to inflict reputational and financial harm to Liberty Counsel,” Staver said last year.
“The allegations that were at issue [with Quilliam] were very similar to the allegations against the other groups," Staver told PJ Media. "The SPLC promotes false propaganda, demonizes and labels groups they disagree with, and that labeling has economic as well as physical consequences."
Representatives of FRC, the Ruth Institute, and ADF also told PJ Media that they are currently weighing their legal options. Prager University, the educational video organization headed by conservative pundit Dennis Prager which is currently suing Google and YouTube for restricting its videos under false pretenses, said it's currently not interested in suing, but reserves the right to change its mind.