The Individual Rights Foundation

From: matt@arl.mil ( Matthew Rosenblatt (AMSAA) )
Subject: Re: Conservative counterpart to ACLU?
Summary: IRF claims to defend FREEDOM against the jackbooted Equality Police.
Keywords: Individual Rights Foundation
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 16:30:25 GMT
Elmont@lamg.com wrote:
Research question for an article: Is there a conservative equivalent of the ACLU that represents people who are negatively impacted by what it views as mis-guided progressive policies and legislation? Clearly there are right-wing think tanks, but what about legal org's that actually take cases to court? [Elmont]
Other replies to this posting have mentioned the "ACLJ," which goes to court to defend the religious rights of Christians. There is another group, the Individual Rights Foundation ("IRF"), with a different focus. A few months ago, the IRF sent me an unsolicited May issue of its newsletter, _The Defender_. The following list of cases is taken from the "Individual Rights Foundation Case Docket" in that issue. In other words, this is what the IRF *said* it was doing as of May, '94:

a. Lebrija et. al. v. Occidental -- A fraternity [ATO] published a newsletter with a ribald limerick. It was threatened with expulsion by the college [Occidental]. The IRF sued the college. Result: 1) Fraternity reinstated; 2) members granted unconditional amnesty for all acts occurring prior to lawsuit; 3) "sexual harassment" policy scrapped and rewritten to be consistent with First Amendment; 4) sexual harassment "decriminalized"; 5) discipline system revamped to grant due process rights to accused. *WON*

b. Huh et. al. v. United States Department of Education -- The DOE tried to sanction Occidental for failure to enforce its sexual harassment code and threatened to force it to punish ATO members for conduct which is protected by the First Amendment. This case is related to _ATO v. Occidental_. The ATO members sued to protect themselves and sought an injunction. The case was dismissed without prejudice as premature, but Judge John Davies said in his opinion that the government had to observe First Amendment principles in its action against Occidental. *WON*

c. Fogerson v. Chico State -- A conservative student was disqualified from student representative race by spurious charges of campaign violations. The IRF interceded with a threat of litigation. Result: 1) client was appointed chair of committee to rewrite election code; 2) client appointed majority of committee; 3) student government must undergo instruction in First Amendment. *WON*

d. ZBT v. Cal State Northridge -- A fraternity made reference to crude drinking song by simply using its name in an invitation to a party. As a result, it was kicked off campus for one and a half years. The IRF sued CSUN and settled the case by getting the fraternity reinstated within four months. *WON*

e. Wake Forest Critic v. Wake Forest University -- Wake Forest University hired a high-powered Washington, D.C., intellectual property law firm to threaten a small off-campus conservative student publication to force it to cease using the name "Wake Forest" in its title. In association with a prominent Charlotte attorney, The IRF answered in kind and forced the university to back down. *WON*

f. Marietta College -- A student wrote an article in the student newspaper in which he referred to lesbianism as "deviant." He was charged with "sexual harassment" by a campus lesbian. The administration intended to expel him from the private Ohio college. The IRF interceded with a threat of litigation based on his contractual rights under the student code as well as First Amendment principles based on the college's acceptance of government funding. The Board of Trustees reconsidered the administration's action, and the student was allowed to remain without disciplinary action. *WON*

g. Berry v. Santa Monica College -- A white nursing student with an "A" average was expelled from the program and given a failing grade for making a procedural error in her training program. Two other students made the same error, were discovered, and left unsanctioned. The other two students were black and Vietnamese. The IRF undertook her representation and asserted her rights on a reverse discrimination theory. *WON*

h. Aguirre et. al. v. University of California, Riverside -- A fraternity produced a t-shirt that had a logo that depicted a man wearing a _serape_ and _sombrero_ sitting on a beach watching the sunset. A group of Chicano radicals accused the fraternity of "racism" for depicting a racial stereotype. The administration suspended the fraternity, alleging civil rights and statutory violations. [The fraternity found out about the IRF. Result:] The fraternity was reinstated, the members received unconditional amnesty, and the administrators involved were forced to take "First Amendment sensitivity training" so that they will understand the limits of their power. *WON*

i. Students v. UCLA -- Last year the California Supreme Court decided that mandatory student fees could not be used for political purposes. The IRF is representing students whose fees this year have been used to underwrite student political groups. The IRF is negotiating with the University to "de-fund" these groups and is preparing litigation in case an agreement cannot be achieved. *PENDING*

j. Students v. University of Maryland -- Feminist students and professors at University of Maryland posted the names of 40 random male students under a banner reading "RAPISTS!" on the theory that all men are potential rapists. The IRF is representing the men in a defamation action against the women as well as the university. *PENDING*

k. Theta Xi v. UCLA -- A fraternity was put on probation for conduct that is protected under the First Amendment. The probation was extended because of other conduct that was not First Amendment protected but would not have merited punishment had the original sanction not been imposed. The IRF interceded on behalf of the fraternity and the extension on the probation was cancelled. *WON*

l. Students v. University of Minnesota -- The university puts on a freshman orientation each year for incoming freshmen and allows student organizations to distribute their literature. This year, the Young Republicans and other conservative groups had their literature confiscated because it had not been approved in advance. The IRF is representing the students against the university. The university is redrafting its rules and is exploring with the IRF ways to distribute the IRF's clients' literature to all freshmen. This case will settle without the need for litigation. *PENDING*

k. Carter v. Servite -- In a campaign speech for student body vice president, a student used the word "feminazi," which offended some of the female members of the faculty. As a result of this, the student, a senior in high school, has been expelled from school and not allowed to return. This is a Catholic high school. The IRF has undertaken his representation under the [California] Leonard Act, which contains an exception for religious schools where the speech to be sanctioned is contrary to religious doctrine. The IRF supports that exception. However, in this instance, the speech was not contrary to church doctrine. *IN LITIGATION*

l. Cohen v. San Bernardino Valley College -- A professor of creative writing was accused of "sexual harassment" as a result of assigning his class to write on the subject of pornography and discussing Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal." He has been threatened with loss of tenure and direct firing. The IRF and its affiliate attorney Stephen Rhode have filed suit in federal court and are seeking an injunction against the punishment. *PENDING*

m. Varones v. Purdue -- A college Republican was told to either resign from the staff of the newspaper or the College Republicans. He refused to do either and is threatened with firing from his position as editor of the school newspaper. *PENDING*

n. Trabeles v. Geneva College -- A student reported an incident of race discrimination (against whites) to a paper at a small college in Pennsylvania. He was expelled. *PENDING*

o. Students v. Cal State Los Angeles -- The administration wrongfully removed students from the student council because they were questioning the expenditure of student fees. *PENDING*

p. Jorgenson v. Los Angeles Valley College -- On the first day of class, a professor of history was asked by a male student if extra credit was available to improve a grade. The teacher joked that he did not take credit cards and had stopped giving grades for sexual favors so the students would just have to do the course work. The teacher was charged with sexual harassment by a female student who attended only that class. The IRF has prepared a federal civil rights lawsuit to prevent them from proceeding. *PENDING*


I am not affiliated with the IRF in any way; I don't even subscribe to their newsletter. Their advertisement in the May/June '94 issue of _Heterodoxy_ reads,
    "Are the PC Police Harassing You for
     Exercising Your Free-Speech Rights?

    "The Individual Rights Foundation
            is here to help you.

    "Your campus or workplace can be
            a free-speech zone, too."

Their address is:  The Individual Rights Foundation,
                   9911 West Pico Boulevard, Suite 1290
                   Los Angeles, California  90035.
They even have a toll-free telephone number, 1-800-752-6562. The IRF says, "As a public interest law firm dedicated to the defense of First Amendment rights and other rights guaranteed in the Constitution the IRF undertakes _pro bono_ representation of those whose liberties have been infringed."

The IRF quotes Michigan Law Professor Catharine MacKinnon: "The law of equality and the law of freedom of speech are on a collision course in this country." The IRF boasts that "Until recently, there was no organized opposition to combat the tide that the MacKinnons and their allies have set in motion. In April of 1993, the Individual Rights Foundation entered the field with results that have been dramatic. In every case where the IRF intervened in behalf of FIrst Amendment rights, the result has been victory for this most basic of American freedoms. In case after case, the opposition legal team has expressed private gratitude for the IRF's intervention, so far had their university clients strayed from the traditional paths of American principle and law."

Are there any net.readers out there who can relate experiences with this "Individual Rights Foundation"?

-- Matt Rosenblatt
(matt@amsaa.arl.army.mil)

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