A Project of the Council on American-Islamic Relations


American Civil Rights Union

Type of Organization: Media, Politics

The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) is an IRS accredited American legal organization founded by former Reagan Administration official Robert B. Carleson in 1999. The organization was originally created as a conservative counter to the American Civil Liberties Union. Currently, the ACRU dedicates itself to the self-proclaimed mission of “protecting the civil rights of all Americans by publicly advancing a constitutional understanding of our essential rights and freedoms.” The majority of their anti-Muslim content originates from the organization’s media wing, “ACRU Commentary,” which posts op-eds and permeates content from far-right sites such as Breitbart News.

The majority of the ACRU’s anti-Muslim statements are captured in op-eds posted on the “ACRU Commentary” section of their website. In 2016, ACRU policy board member J. Christian Adams reflected on the “despicable conduct” of American Muslims, stating that “when jihadist after jihadist destroys our treasured domestic tranquility, they will eventually awaken an American resolve that will sweep away these distractions and confront the problem head-on.” In 2017, ACRU board member J. Kenneth Blackwell asserted that President Trump had an opportunity to make “historic strides in the conflict between the U.S. and the new evil of our time: Islamic extremism.”

During the Obama presidency, the organization stated that President Obama provided aid and support to radical branches of Islam, citing the administration’s attempts to grant Osama Bin Laden a proper burial consistent with Islamic tradition as evidence of its support of Islamic terrorism.

Several influential board members of the ACRU, such as J. Christian Adams and J. Kenneth Blackwell, have also exhibited Islamophobic behavior. Blackwell labeled Islamic tradition as “a totalitarian way of life” and claimed that the First Amendment does not apply to worshippers of the religion.

As a legal organization, the ACRU engages with the public through the cases that it takes on and the issues that it prioritizes, but it does not make media appearances directly. However, key board members regularly make appearances on news organizations such as Fox News. For example, J. Christian Adams made an appearance on “Fox and Friends” as a legal expert on voter ID laws in February of 2019.

Following his departure from the Department of Justice, Adams emphatically stated that “the Obama Justice Department is not just tolerating, but actively aiding the assertion of Islamic law in the U.S. and the primacy of Sharia over U.S. law.” In 2012, he appeared at CPAC with Pamela Geller, a well-known anti-Muslim activist. Together, they participated in a panel entitled, “Islamic Law in America, How the Obama Justice Department Is Selling Us Out.”

Board member J. Kenneth Blackwell was also part of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and has close ties to the president. He is also on the board of advisors for the Zionist organization, the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), and serves as a board member for the National Rifle Association (NRA).

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