Southern Poverty Law Center Facing Dozens Of Potential Lawsuits For 'Hate Group' Label

"The SPLC promotes false propaganda, demonizes and labels groups they disagree with, and that labeling has economic as well as physical consequences."

Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, speaks during a press conference November 29, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Following a $3.4 million settlement for defamation, the floodgates appear to have officially opened on the partisan Southern Poverty Law Center for its reckless use of its "hate group" and "extremist" designations. According to PJ Media's Tyler O'Neil, at least 60 organizations that the self-styled "hate group watchdog" has branded as "extremist" are now considering taking legal action.

"No fewer than 60 organizations branded 'hate groups' or otherwise attacked by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) are considering legal action against the left-wing smear factory, a Christian legal nonprofit leader confirmed to PJ Media on Tuesday," O'Neil reported.

The confirmation comes a day after SPLC issued an apology and wrote a $3.375 million check to Maajid Nawaz and his Quilliam Foundation for including them on its incendiary 2016 "Field Guild to Anti-Muslim Extremists."

"We haven't filed anything against the SPLC, but I think a number of organizations have been considering filing lawsuits against the SPLC, because they have been doing to a lot of organizations exactly what they did to Maajid Nawaz that's part of the settlement," founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, Mat Staver, told PJ Media Tuesday.

"There are probably about 60 organizations that we're talking to — there's at least 60," he said.

"This is a significant settlement," said Staver of SPLC's settlement with Nawaz. "3.375 million dollars, and it did not even go to litigation; it was a result of a demand letter."

"[T]he allegations that were at issue here were very similar to the allegations against the other groups," he said. "The SPLC promotes false propaganda, demonizes and labels groups they disagree with, and that labeling has economic as well as physical consequences."

The political and ideological bias of the SPLC has become so egregious in recent years that even Politico recently published a lengthy, damning piece asking if the former "civil rights stalwart" has "lost its way." Below are a few examples provided by journalist Ben Schreckinger of the SPLC's transformation into "more of a progressive hit operation than a civil rights watchdog" (formatting adjusted):

  • Former Islamist and self described “counter-extremist” Maajid Nawaz appeared in the SPLC’s 2016 “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” for using his platform "to savage Islam."
  • The Family Research Council — a conservative Christian nonprofit led by Tony Perkins—has been classified by the SPLC as a hate group since 2010 for spreading “false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people.” In 2012, a gunman who read on the SPLC’s website that the FRC was anti-gay shot up the group’s lobby.
  • The Center for Immigration Studies, a nonprofit led by Mark Krikorian that supports lower immigration, appeared in the SPLC’s 2017 “Year in Hate and Extremism” report for producing “fear-mongering misinformation about Latino immigrants.”
  • Political scientist Charles Murray has been a fixture on the SPLC’s roster of “extremists,” in part for his writing on race-based intellectual disparities. In March, Middlebury students informed by the SPLC’s designation violently prevented Murray from speaking on campus.
  • Somali-born Dutch activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali was stoking controversy for her vocal criticism of Islam long before she found her way onto the SPLC’s 2016 “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.” But while some say she is a bigot, others laud her as a human rights icon. ...

The SPLC has included Senator Rand Paul and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson among the neo-Nazis and white supremacists on its extremists lists (Paul for suggesting private businesses shouldn’t have to adhere to the Civil Rights Act and criticizing the Fair Housing Act; Carson for his views opposing same-sex marriage). The group did back down after it put Carson on the 2014 “extremist watch” list—removing his name and issuing an apology that earned a lot of coverage in the conservative media. “This week, as we’ve come under intense criticism for doing so, we’ve reviewed our profile and have concluded that it did not meet our standards,” the organization’s statement said, “so we have taken it down and apologize to Dr. Carson for having posted it.”

Prager University, which has been smeared by association by the SPLC, produced a video with Karl Zinsmeister in October 2017 on the SPLC:

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