Posted on September 17, 2019

Federal Judge Tosses Lawsuit over Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Group Labels

Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press, September 16, 2019


(Credit Image: © Especial / Notimex / Newscom via ZUMA Press)

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit that accused leaders of the Southern Poverty Law Center of trying to financially destroy one of the organizations that it has labeled as a hate group.

The Center for Immigration Studies’ lawsuit is devoid of any allegation that the law center made a false statement about the Washington-based nonprofit, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., said in her ruling Friday.


The research group accused the Montgomery, Alabama-based law center’s leaders of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act when they designated it as a hate group in 2016. The judge, however, said the suit improperly attempts to “shoehorn” a defamation claim into the framework of a RICO case.

The law center’s attorneys asked the judge to impose monetary sanctions against the group for filing claims that it said were frivolous and designed to “censor constitutionally protected speech.” {snip}

Jackson refused to impose sanctions, concluding the lawsuit wasn’t “completely frivolous.” {snip}

On its website, the law center describes the Center for Immigration Studies as the “go-to think tank for the anti-immigrant movement” and says it has a history of circulating the work of white nationalist and anti-Semitic writers.

The research group says on its website that it has a “pro-immigrant, low-immigration vision which seeks fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted.”

Mark Krikorian, the group’s executive director, said in an email Monday that the group hasn’t yet decided whether to appeal.

The law center’s interim president, Karen Baynes-Dunning, said the group stands by its listing of CIS as an anti-immigrant hate group.


In January 2018, a federal judge in Virginia ruled that the First Amendment protected a charity tracking website’s use of the law center’s hate group labels.