ACLU always controversial

August 5, 2008
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In an obituary for Indianapolis attorney Alan Nolan, I learned that he was one of the founders of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, now the ACLU of Indiana. According to law firm Ice Miller’s Web site, Nolan and attorney Merle Miller, another founder, created a stir by starting a branch of the national organization here. Some believe the ACLU was linked to communism, a hot issue in the 1950s McCarthy era. Following its formation, the organization was immediately banned from meeting at the Indiana World War Memorial because of allegations the ICLU lacked patriotism, according the ACLU of Indiana’s Web site.

From Day 1 the organization founded to defend people’s rights has been controversial.

When it first started, it tackled cases involving the building of a large cross on public property, reinstating college students who were expelled after leaving the Indiana State University campus o attend a peace march in Washington, D.C., and prisoners’ rights at Indiana jails.

More recently, the ACLU has taken cases involving what type of prayer is acceptable before sessions of the Indiana House of Representatives, voters challenging Indiana’s voter ID law, and a law requiring all sellers of sexually explicit material to register with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office and pay a fee.

Some feel the ACLU of Indiana is needed in today’s world as a champion for every citizen’s rights under our constitutions, regardless of who the person is or to what group they belong.

Others don’t have as favorable a view of the ACLU of Indiana, believing the organization is simply anti-prayer, pro-immigrant, pro-gay, pro-choice, and supportive of controversial groups like prisoners, the Ku Klux Klan, and other extremists because it represents those groups in court.

Is it possible that the ACLU of Indiana is even more controversial now than it was when it was founded in the early 1950s? I guess that depends on which side you take on the issues the ACLU gets involved in.
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  2. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

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