'About 60 Organizations' Are Considering a Lawsuit Against the SPLC Following $3M Nawaz Settlement
No fewer than 60 organizations branded "hate groups" or otherwise attacked by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) are considering legal action against the left-wing smear factory, a Christian legal nonprofit leader confirmed to PJ Media on Tuesday. He suggested that the $3 million settlement and apology the SPLC gave to Maajid Nawaz and his Quilliam Foundation on Monday would encourage further legal action.
"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.
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.
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 reasons for including him, changing the reasons every so often, and even at one point mentioning that he had gone to a strip club for his bachelor party.
On Monday, SPLC President Richard Cohen extended his group's "sincerest apologies to Mr. Nawaz, Quilliam, and our readers for the error, and we wish Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam all the best." In settling the suit, the SPLC paid Nawaz's organization $3.375 million.
"This is a significant settlement," Staver told PJ Media. "3.375 million dollars, and it did not even go to litigation; it was a result of a demand letter."
Importantly, "the allegations that were at issue here were very similar to the allegations against the other groups," the Liberty Counsel chairman explained. "The SPLC promotes false propaganda, demonizes and labels groups they disagree with, and that labeling has economic as well as physical consequences."
The SPLC started as a group to oppose racist terrorism, and its first legal action targeted the Ku Klux Klan. In recent decades, the organization has begun marking mainstream organizations as "hate groups" on par with the KKK. Last year, 47 nonprofit leaders denounced the SPLC's "hate list" in an open letter to the media. The SPLC has admitted that its "hate group" list is based on "opinion."
Staver insisted that the settlement with Nawaz "will encourage further legal action." He suggested that the settlement "helps our lawsuit against GuideStar" and may encourage organizations that were considering suing the SPLC to actually file the paperwork.
"There are probably about 60 organizations that we're talking to — there's at least 60," Staver told PJ Media. He mentioned the group of 47 nonprofit leaders who denounced the SPLC last year, and said "that group has grown since then."