This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published August 16, 2012 on The Daily Caller website.
Almost immediately after Mitt Romney announced that he'd picked Paul Ryan to be his running mate, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report branding the Wisconsin congressman as an opponent of civil rights.
What the ACLU means is that Ryan opposes the bizarre perversion of civil rights that the progressive left has conjured over the past few decades.
Ryan, the ACLU charges, has "almost uniformly harmful views on five key civil liberties issues": immigration, gay marriage, abortion, waterboarding and voter ID laws.
In other words, Ryan is guilty of being a conservative, and therefore he might want to join a "hate group" or two. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that Ryan is solidly in the mainstream on these issues and it's the ACLU that's on the fringe.
The Ryan report is drawn from a June white paper on Romney's and Obama's vice presidential possibilities entitled "A Heartbeat from the Presidency, Light Years from Civil Liberties." All potential GOP candidates are unacceptable to the ACLU, while Vice President Joe Biden is looked on favorably for his reliably far-left stances.
Here's how the report, for example, characterizes state laws recently enacted to deter voter fraud by tightening ID requirements: "Attempts to manipulate the law in ways that will disenfranchise communities of color continue nationwide -- in recent years, these attacks on voting rights often come in the form of voter identification laws."
A poll released by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, and reported in The Washington Post on August 12 finds that 74 percent of Americans favor requiring photo IDs for voting in person. "Moreover," The Post says, "big majorities of those whom critics see as bearing the brunt of the laws are supportive of them, including about three-quarters of seniors and those with household incomes under $50,000 and two-thirds of non-whites."
Are all of these people against "civil rights"?
Most Americans also favor stronger border enforcement and laws that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and most Americans oppose preferential treatment for illegal immigrants in taxpayer-supported programs, such as in-state tuition at state colleges. Most Americans support genuine, constitutionally based civil rights, not the ACLU's coercive, left-wing agenda. Ryan is in good company.