WASHINGTON - Friday, the Washington Times scolds Illinois' U.S. Senator Dick Durbin for being a bully, and for trying to imitate the intimidation tactics that failed decades ago against the NAACP's donors. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the NAACP, saying the donors had a right to privacy. And while Durbin criticizes the American Legislative Exchange Council for their secrecy, he continues to keep secret where and how he got the list of 300 ALEC contributors. The Washington Times wrote:
Mr. Durbin’s bullying recalls the bullying of the NAACP during the civil rights struggles in the South. In 1956, the state of Alabama tried to force disclosure of the group’s members, knowing that many of them would feel threatened if their names became public knowledge. The Supreme Court intervened. Writing for a unanimous court, Justice John Marshall Harlan declared that “this Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one’s associations.” He agreed that making the names public would expose them to “economic reprisal, loss of employment, threat of physical coercion, and other manifestations of physical hostility.” Similar economic reprisal is what the senator suggests, and not so subtly, with his letter.
Foundations, corporations and plain citizens have the right to support political causes of their choice without fear of reprisal from the government, or even from a U.S. senator. ALEC’s effectiveness on the state level has made it a target of the left for decades. Mr. Durbin’s bullying is unacceptable and makes a strong case for laws to keep contributions to political groups — Democrat, Republican, liberal or conservative — confidential. The IRS is under investigation by Congress for harassing political organizations, and deserves no help from anyone, not even a U.S. senator. Mr. Durbin should keep his cheering and bullying to himself.