John Ashcroft Cannot Force the ACLU to Check Employees Against a "Black List" - ACLU Will Reject CFC Funds and Challenge Government Policy in Court
Statement from ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero
Regarding Patriot Act Restrictions on Combined Federal Campaign Donations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK -- The Patriot Act and the government's "war on terror" are threatening the ability of America's non-profit charities to do their essential work and we have John Ashcroft to thank for it. By requiring non-profit charities to check their employees against a "black list" in order to receive donations from the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), John Ashcroft and this administration have created a climate of fear and intimidation that undermines the health and well-being of this nation. Organizations that enhance and promote America's health and education, the arts and the environment, children's services and religious life are threatened by the web of fear that emanates from the Patriot Act and the war on terror, and that is wrong.
Let me be clear. The ACLU will not be intimidated. We will not compromise. We will never check any of our employees against a government list. And we absolutely will not accept any funding that undermines or threatens our principles or our mission.
The ACLU would never have signed the CFC's funding agreement if we believed for one minute we would have to check our employees against a list. Our legal advice indicates otherwise, but based on statements reported today by the director of the CFC asserting that the ACLU "could be ruled temporarily ineligible for inclusion or they could be permanently excluded" for violating the government's policy, our position is clear.
We have found in ACLU litigation regarding other watch lists that these lists are notoriously riddled with error and do not provide individuals with a means to correct false information. If a name matches up against the CFC lists, employers would be required to violate the privacy rights of employees and ask inappropriate questions that trample employees' associational rights.
The ACLU will resign from the CFC rather than accept its terms that violate our fundamental principles.
Furthermore, we will determine the best course for challenging the CFC restrictions in court. And, in this climate of fear and intimidation, we act not only on our behalf, but on behalf of our nation's non-profits, to defend ourselves against John Ashcroft and a government that tramples on the Constitution in the name of national security.
It is a sad day when the thousands of trusted organizations that rely on the CFC - from the largest charities to the smallest community centers - are made unknowing victims of the government's extreme policy. But ultimately, it is the nation's weakest and most vulnerable who will truly suffer - those who depend most on the essential services of these charities and non-profits. The ACLU will work aggressively to reverse this dangerous policy and defend the rights of non-profit organizations against an increasingly intrusive government.
The 2002 Combined Federal Campaign National List can be viewed at: