WASHINGTON – Minnesota Sen. Al Franken recently lashed out at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a group that provides legal counsel to protect First Amendment rights, calling the organization a “hate group.”
During a confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett, a Notre Dame law professor nominated by President Donald Trump to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Franken went after Barrett’s association with the well-respected religious freedom organization. Citing Southern Poverty Law Center, a left-wing organization that claims to fight against discrimination, Franken called ADF a “hate group” for its views on traditional marriage.
“They [the Southern Poverty Law Center] track hate groups,” Franken said. “And you spoke at an event sponsored by one of those hate groups.”
“I mean, this is a group that fights against equal treatment of LGBT people; this is a group which calls for the sterilization of transgender people abroad,” Franken added.
Barrett, who had been a part of a fellowship program with ADF, defended the organization.
“I never witnessed any discriminatory conduct in anyway,” Barrett said. “I never had a whiff of that.”
Following the hearing, ADF has fired back at Franken, saying the senator is “deeply misinformed” about their organization.
“It is really unfortunate that Senator Franken is so deeply misinformed about the Alliance Defending Freedom’s work for religious liberty,” ADF Legal Counsel Doug Wardlow told Alpha News. “The accusations he was leveling are completely untrue. He should really do more fact checking before he levels allegations like that.”
Wardlow, who is running for Minnesota attorney general, described the Southern Poverty Law Center as an organization that “makes money off of attacking Christian and other groups that have traditional views about marriage and other issues.” Wardlow was quick to shut down any allegations that ADF supports the sterilization of transgender people, calling the baseless claims “preposterous.”
“It is completely preposterous and untrue. He’s got his facts completely wrong. There is nothing to that accusation whatsoever,” Wardlow said. “He’s just playing politics, just like the Southern Poverty Law Center is playing politics trying to raise funds.”
Wardlow described ADF as a “very successful and well-respected” Supreme Court advocate that defends religious liberty and free speech cases across the country. ADF was recently before the high court defending Trinity Lutheran Church in the recent religious liberty case Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court agreed with ADF and ruled in favor of Trinity Lutheran, upholding the church’s right to participate equally in neutral government programs and not be discriminated against solely because of the church’s religious identity.
“There is nothing extreme about religious liberty. It is our first freedom in the Constitution,” Wardlow said. “He [Franken] should stop leveling these egregious attacks.”
Watch Franken question Barrett here.