What is the American Freedom Law Center?
The American Freedom Law Center, Inc. (AFLC) is an anti-Muslim law firm co-founded and co-led by David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise.
The AFLC describes itself as a public interest law firm aiming to “aggressively… defend our Nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage in courts.” The center engages in “lawfare” against Muslim advocacy and civil rights organizations and has advocated for the enactment of anti-Muslim legislation. The center often acts as the Islamophobia Network’s legal counsel and has represented Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative.
Southern Poverty Law Center labeled AFLC has an anti-Muslim hate group and has profiled co-founder Yerushalmi as a “key figure in the U.S. anti-Muslim hate movement.” The Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University has called AFLC an “anti-Muslim law firm.”
A 2022 CAIR report detailing nearly $106 million of philanthropic funding into anti-Muslim groups shows that philanthropic organizations gifted AFLC more than $1.7 million in grants between 2017 and 2019.
According to the Bridge Initiative, Yerushalmi and Muise “have defended numerous anti-Muslim clients in cases involving transportation advertisement, an anti-mosque case, two “Muslim-free” gun ranges, a restaurant and [fought against] ‘sharia compliant’ insurance.”
In August 2017, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) submitted an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, lending its support to President Trump’s Muslim Ban. Yerushalmi asserted that “the travel ban did not go far enough.”
In 2015, AFLC represented a Florida gun store owner who called his business a “Muslim Free Zone” on its Facebook page. Muise alleged in his defense of the business’s refusal to serve Muslim customers was “to prevent the next terrorist attack.”
In 2012, AFLC represented anti-Muslim figures Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer in a federal court case to overturn New York City MTA’s restriction on an Islamophobic advert that stated: “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
As noted above, the American Freedom Law Center is often the law firm of choice for the U.S. Islamophobia Network. Yerushalmi and AFLC enjoy a close relationship with Gaffney and his anti-Muslim Center for Security Policy. CSP President Gaffney and CSP fellow Joseph Schmitz both served on AFLC advisory board, while Yerushalmi served as General Counsel to the Center for Security Policy from 2008 to 2021.
AFLC submitted the amicus curiae brief on Trump’s Muslim ban on behalf of Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy amongst others. In addition, AFLC cited works published by Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum in its amicus curiae brief.
Yerushalmi is also a key figure in Center for Security Policy’s “Team B,” and co-authored the Center’s “Shariah: The Threat To America.” The report asserts that the U.S. legal system is being infiltrated by those seeking to ‘establish sharia law,’ deems Islam as “totalitarian in character, incompatible with our Constitution, and a threat to freedom here and around the world.” The report alleges that “Muslims are obligated to conquer the West and replace its governments with an Islamic theocracy.”
Yerushalmi created a legislative template for state legislatures across the United States to introduce anti-Sharia bills called American Laws for American Courts (ALAC). ALAC received funding from Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy.
According to a report published by Haas Institute at the University of California Berkeley, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy provided $153,000 to Yerushalmi as “consulting fees.” From 2010 to 2016, Haas Institute reported 194 anti-Sharia bills were introduced in 39 state legislatures, of which 18 bills were enacted into law.