Liberty Counsel Loses Lawsuit Over Being Labeled a Hate Group

Written by | Lifestyle

Liberty Counsel chairman and founder Mat Staver

It would be so nice if you wouldn’t point out how bigoted we are while we’re busy spreading mistruths and trying to disenfranchise you.

After being miffed at being tagged as a hate group, longtime LGBT loathers the Liberty Counsel decided enough was enough. The organization filed a lawsuit last June in Virginia against a charity ratings group called GuideStar U.S.A. after the site included Liberty on its list of hate groups, citing its anti-LGBT messaging tactics and propaganda, as assessed by the venerated Southern Poverty Law Center. Liberty originally claimed the designation was slanderous and damaged its reputation.
But their efforts didn’t get them very far. Last week, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia judge Raymond A. Jackson granted GuideStar’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and declared that the appellation was not covered by the commercial law that Liberty had used as the basis for its suit. Further, Jackson said the First Amendment protects GuideStar’s “expressive right to comment on social issues.”

The lawsuit was cleverly worded in that it claimed GuideStar U.S.A. was using their designation of Liberty as “commercial speech.” Jackson rejected that argument in dismissing the case. Liberty founder and chairman Mat Staver said that his group would likely appeal the ruling and that the use of hate group terminology “was designed to inflict financial harm because its purpose was to affect the financial transactions of the public.” He concluded, “This false label applied to non-violent and law-abiding groups must stop.”

In response to the ruling, GuideStar issued a statement of its own, asserting that their organization is a nonprofit “whose purpose is to encourage philanthropy by providing information about nonprofits that members of the public can use to make educated and informed decisions about their relationships with and donations to these nonprofits.”
Just the same, GuideStar removed its designations from four dozen profile pages last year, saying at the time that its decision to abandon the labels was motivated by a “commitment to objectivity” and concerns for their staff’s “well being” after the organization received several threats.

Last modified: February 1, 2018