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Court Dismisses Case Involving DHS Extremism Report

A federal appeals court last week affirmed a lower court decision throwing out a lawsuit brought by a hard-line anti-abortion group against the Obama Administration over a controversial government report on right-wing extremism.

The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, represented by the religious-right Thomas More Law Center, had alleged that the April 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security essentially set up conservatives for disfavored treatment. It also claimed, without evidence, that the report had been “created, adopted, implemented, and enforced through a partnership” with the Anti-Defamation League, the National Abortion Federation and the Southern Poverty Law Center, publisher of this blog.

A lower court dismissed the case, but the Thomas More Center filed an appeal. On Aug. 4, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the plaintiffs “have not pleaded a claim that plausibly suggests their entitlement to relief.”

In fact, the 2009 report was a prescient document, noting the rise of various radical-right groups and tying that rise to the election of the nation’s first black president, among other things. It also mentioned single-issue immigration and abortion extremists, as well as the fact that some hate groups seek to recruit military veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. The  SPLC has reached similar, independent findings, as have others. But in 2009, conservatives bitterly attacked the report, claiming it tarred all conservatives as potential terrorists.

In the aftermath of those attacks, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano withdrew the report and apologized for it. In the years since then, according to the principal author of the report who has since left DHS, the agency gutted his former unit and stopped producing substantial reports of any kind. The author, Daryl Johnson, detailed his allegations in an interview with the Intelligence Report, and SPLC officials wrote Napolitano to ask that she reevaluate her actions.

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