Jonathan Turley: 'ACLU Finally Hit Rock Bottom' Involving Itself in Celebrity Gossip

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool Photo via AP

Legal scholar Jonathan Turley called the verdict in favor of Johnny Depp a “massive defamation win,” before ripping apart the corrupted ACLU and proclaiming that they should share in paying the damages along with the Washington Post. In an article entitled, “The Depp Trial and the Demise of the ACLU,” Turley wrote:


However, the stain of  this verdict should be shared with others, even if they avoided the sting of actual damages. That includes many in the media (including the Washington Post staff) who rushed to paint Heard as a victim and Depp as an abuser. Yet, the greatest condemnation should be reserved for the organization that not only pushed that narrative but actually helped draft the defamatory column: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Turley blames ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero for the disastrous policies that led to this debacle.

Under Romero, the ACLU has become openly political and increasingly scandal-prone. The political agenda has corrupted the organization in the sense of cutting it adrift from the strong principles that once held it firmly to its original mission.  I have no doubt that the new direction is motivated by deeply held political values. I also do not believe that it has taken this course for purely monetary gains or donations. It is corrupted in the sense of debasing its legacy. The ACLU once represented something more than just another political advocacy group.

It’s true that the ACLU wrote the article at the heart of the defamation case. Emails proved they not only wrote it but they knew they were skating a fine line due to Heard’s signed agreement with Depp that neither party would speak poorly of the other in public. Why shouldn’t they share in the judgment? Perhaps instead of appealing the case against Depp, Heard should sue the ACLU and the Washington Post for the damages! It’s not a bad idea. They actually have the money to make Depp whole and they could be forced to pay up, unlike Heard, who isn’t even worth the $8.3 million judgment handed down.


RELATED: Why We Can’t Let Amber Heard’s Melodramatic Whining About Internet Abuse Close American Courtrooms

Turley’s dragging of the ACLU’s descent into irrelevance continued in scathing prose.

The emergence of the ACLU at the heart of one of the most sordid celebrity trials in history is the final measure of the decline of this once celebrated civil liberties group. It was not easy to get here. It took the determined work of former President Susan N. Herman, current president Deborah Archer, and Romeo to erase decades of apolitical and impactful advocacy on behalf of civil liberties for all. The trial put the new ACLU on full review as just another political advocacy group. What many saw was not the courageous group that once defended the free speech rights of Nazis. Instead, what they saw was an organization [that] seemed to be pandering to celebrities.

And not only pandering but using one celebrity to attack another celebrity so they could score political points against the left’s favorite villain, Donald Trump. The Federalist wrote about the connection.

On Nov. 6, 2018, at 2:22 p.m., Gerry Johnson, who according to his LinkedIn was then an ACLU staffer in communications strategy, sent an email to Heard’s publicist at the time, Jodi Gottlieb. It said, “I’d like your and Amber’s thoughts on doing an op-ed in which she discusses the ways in which survivors of gender-based violence have been made less safe under the Trump administration and how people can take action.”


It doesn’t get lower than defamation for political points. Why can’t they be held liable? They wrote it. If I were Heard, I’d sue them and make them cough up the $8 million.

Turley finished his piece with a bang.

In the Depp-Heard trial, the ACLU finally hit the rock bottom as an organization in free fall. It ultimately was the reputation of the ACLU, not Depp, that may have suffered the most in the trial. Ironically, for critics, Amber Heard became the fitting face and ambassador of the ACLU: conflicted, confused, and corrupted.

Can the ACLU be held liable for their part in the defamatory article about Depp? It would be fun to find, out but the chances of Heard suing her co-conspirators are pretty slim when the person she has always wanted to abuse is Depp. Expect her to drag him through the courts as many times as she can.


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