Citing the SPLC, Sen. Al Franken Compares Alliance Defending Freedom to Pol Pot

On Wednesday, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) questioned Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump's nominee for a federal judgeship. Franken noted that Barrett once spoke at a meeting sponsored by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). He cited the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in maligning ADF as a "hate group," and attacked Barrett for not doing sufficient research before addressing the organization.

"Is it your habit of accepting money from organizations without first learning what they do?" Franken pressed. He presented a hypothetical: "Let's say in the seventies, I did lectures and say Pol Pot had asked me to speak, but I didn't like check it out, do you think that would have been good judgment?"

Make no mistake: Franken did compare a religious freedom organization the SPLC attacks as a "hate group" to the Cambodian genocidal dictator whose Khmer Rouge (KR) regime killed an estimated 1.5 to 3 million people between 1975 and 1979.

Pot's regime attempted to impose an agrarian socialism, following the ideas of Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. His policies caused forced relocation, torture, and mass executions of educated and older people. This evil regime killed approximately one fourth (25 percent) of Cambodia's population.

Alliance Defending Freedom, however, is a legal advocacy organization focused on religious freedom and other issues.

In response to Franken's statements, the group noted that seven Supreme Court justices agreed with its position in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, a case from June. The case involved a church-run preschool in Missouri that the state had denied a partial reimbursement grant for rubberized playground surface material. The Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot exclude churches and other faith-based organizations from a secular government program because of their religion.

So how did a religious freedom legal outfit end up being compared to Pol Pot? The answer lies in the group Franken cited, the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Democratic senator based his entire attack on ADF and Barrett on the SPLC.

"The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, describes ADF as a group that has 'supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the United States and criminalization abroad," Franken declared. He further alleged that ADF "has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of transgender people abroad, has linked homosexuality to pedophilia, and claims that a homosexual agenda will destroy Christianity and society."

Indeed, the SPLC has marked ADF an "Anti-LGBT Hate Group," and listed such "hate groups" alongside racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan.

Barrett responded, "If I were invited to speak by a hate group, if I were invited to speak by the KKK —"

Franken interrupted her, declaring, "It sounds like ADF is something of a hate group, doesn't it?"