Maryland Attorney Sues SPLC in Defense of Free Expression

A prominent attorney in Baltimore, Md. has filed a landmark lawsuit in federal court against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), one of its officers, Heidi Beirich, and a former officer, Mark Potok. Glen Allen alleges that the two, in the course of orchestrating Allen’s dismissal from his position as an attorney with the Baltimore City Law Department, committed numerous unethical and illegal acts, including receipt of stolen property, improper disclosure of confidential and privileged documents, failure to properly train and supervise Beirich and Potok, and falsely claiming Allen was “infiltrating” the Baltimore City Law Department.

Allen sets the stage for his claims by detailing some of the many trenchant criticisms from across the political spectrum that have been leveled in recent years against the SPLC, Beirich, and Potok.

In the filing, he contrasts the robust dialogue, open debate, aversion to taboos, and genuine conversation that lie at the heart of America’s remarkable traditions of free expression—as embodied, among other ways, in the First Amendment—with the SPLC approach, which is “to draw lines of political or cultural orthodoxy, develop massive surveillance networks and extensive dossiers, and severely punish perceived transgressors who cross those lines, seem to cross them, or even seem to think about crossing them,” Allen writes in his complaint.

The attorney notes that among the many victims of the SPLC’s rigid thought-control approach have been African-Americans such as professor Carol Swain, Muslims such as Maajid Nawaz, scholars such as Charles Murray, and many Christian organizations.

Against this background, Allen, in addition to alleging claims personal to himself, challenges the SPLC’s status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit supposedly dedicated to an educational mission, when in reality it is a highly partisan enforcer of hard-left creeds and taboos. Allen further alleges claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Among the predicate acts Allen alleges in support of his RICO claims is the SPLC’s false statement on its 501(c)(3) tax filings that it did not participate in political campaigns, when in reality it repeatedly attacked Donald Trump and other Republican candidates but never Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election cycle.

According to Allen, in a moment of candor, Potok, the editor-in-chief of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, boasted: “We see this political struggle, right? . . . I mean, we’re not trying to change anybody’s mind. We’re trying to wreck the groups, and we are very clear in our head. . . . We are trying to destroy them.”

Beirich has similarly boasted that the SPLC has been “watching Allen like a hawk” because, according to Beirich and the SPLC, he “has the worst ideas ever.”

Such views and aims, as Allen contends in his complaint, are poisonous and treasonous to our American traditions. They are especially appalling when enforced by a supposed 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has accumulated over $450 million in fundraising by claiming to be a respectable civil rights organization.

Anyone wishing to support Allen in his lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center can do so by writing, Glen Allen, P.O. Box 10441, Baltimore, Md. 21209.

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