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47 Groups Weighing SPLC Lawsuit Warn 'Editors, CEOs': 'You Are Complicit' in Hate Group 'Defamation'

Southern Poverty Law Center Hate Map

On Wednesday, no fewer than 47 nonprofit leaders maligned by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — many if not most of whom are considering a lawsuit against the organization — warned a vast array of executives and leaders that if they parrot the SPLC's damaging "hate group" labels, they would be "complicit" in "defamation."

"Editors, CEOs, shareholders and consumers alike are on notice: anyone relying upon and repeating its misrepresentations is complicit in the SPLC's harmful defamation of large numbers of American citizens who, like the undersigned, have been vilified simply for working to protect our country and freedoms," the signatories wrote.

The letter followed news — broken at PJ Media — that no fewer than 60 organizations are considering suing the SPLC following a groundbreaking settlement in which the organization formally apologized to a Muslim reformer, Maajid Nawaz, for branding him an "anti-Muslim extremist."

In 2016, the SPLC published its "Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists," listing Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz, a practicing Muslim, as one such extremist. The left-wing group listed various and changing reasons for including him, even at one point mentioning that he had gone to a strip club for his bachelor party. On Monday, the SPLC apologized and paid $3.375 million to settle a lawsuit Nawaz had filed.

"We haven't filed anything against the SPLC, but I think a number of organizations have been considering filing lawsuits against the SPLC because they have been doing to a lot of organizations exactly what they did to Maajid Nawaz," Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told PJ Media on Tuesday.

Representatives of the Family Research Council (FRC), the Ruth Institute, and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) told PJ Media they were considering "legal options."

Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit against the charity navigation organization GuideStar for defamation after GuideStar adopted the SPLC's "hate group" list. That lawsuit is ongoing.

Staver further told PJ Media, "There are probably about 60 organizations that we're talking to — there's at least 60."

The letter published Wednesday featured roughly the same list of groups that denounced the SPLC's "hate list" in an open letter to the media last year. The SPLC has admitted that its "hate group" list is based on "opinion."

Worse, in 2012, a terrorist broke into the Family Research Council (FRC) with a semi-automatic pistol, aiming to kill everyone in the building. In later FBI testimony, he admitted to targeting FRC because it was on the SPLC's "hate map," and that he intended to shoot up other organizations once he finished there.

The letter's legal threat should be abundantly clear. Ken Cuccinelli, former attorney general of Virginia, signed the letter, as did PJ Media's J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. Michael P. Farris, president, CEO, and general counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), represents an organization that has won eight Supreme Court cases in the past seven years.