Center for Individual Rights

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Follow the money in the Koch wiki.

The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) is a right-wing legal organization originally known for its opposition to affirmative action, the Voting Rights Act, and other equity policies that favor those who have traditionally been discriminated against.[1][2]

CIR represents the plaintiffs in the public-sector union "right to work" case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, who are seeking to overturn existing precedent that allows public sector unions to collect "fair share" fees from non-members. See below for more information.

CIR supported the Boy Scouts in their effort to exclude gay men from leadership positions.[3]

Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.

Legal Cases

Public Sector "Right to Work" Case to Be Heard by U.S. Supreme Court

In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the public-sector "right-to-work" case which seeks to outlaw "fair share" clauses in public-sector collective bargaining agreements,[4][5] which would overturn several decades of precedent.

The plaintiffs seek to overturn the 1977 ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that upheld the legality of "agency shop" arrangements in which unions are allowed to assess a fee to non-members to cover the costs of collective representation. The plaintiffs CIR argues that "agency shop" arrangements should be invalidated under First Amendment rights to free speech, claiming that "well-settled principles of freedom of speech and association" mean that "the state cannot constitutionally compel an individual to join and financially support an organization with which he or she disagrees."[6]

In These Times noted that "if successful [the case] would affect tens of thousands of union contracts and would force millions of public employees into a right-to-work model," and described the case as "specially crafted for the Supreme Court," following on the heels of Knox v. SEIU. The majority opinion in latter case, written by Justice Samuel Alito, "went beyond the confines of the case to suggest strongly that the decades-old accommodation between union members and non-members in public workplaces violates the First Amendment rights of the non-members," essentially suggesting a legal strategy for union opponents, according to New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse.[7]

The case will be decided in 2016.[5]

Challenges to Voting Rights Act

The Center has been involved in several cases challenging the 1964 Voting Rights Act, including Nix v. Holder. Nix v. Holder was ultimately dismissed on procedural grounds. But in a parallel case, Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court in 2013 voted to strike down Section 4(b) of the Act, effectively prohibiting enforcement of the pre-clearance provisions that require communities with a history of discrimination to get prior approval from the U.S. Justice Department to make changes to voting laws.[8]

Defense of James O'Keefe's Secret Recordings

CIR represented video provocateur James O'Keefe, filing a motion in federal court in March 2011 "to strike down a California anti-tape recording statute that CIR contends violates the First Amendment. In that statute, California has made it a criminal offense for a person not affiliated with law enforcement to record his own 'confidential' conversation with any other person, unless that person consents to being recorded." [9]

Juan Carlos Vera, a former employee of the community organizing group ACORN, had sued O’Keefe for civil damages with regard to video O'Keefe secretly recorded in 2009.[9] The lawsuit alleged that O'Keefe and his associate filmed Vera in the San Diego ACORN offices without his consent, a violation of California law, and portrayed him untruthfully. The video was later heavily edited and published on conservative mega-blog Breitbart.com, making it appear that Vera had conspired with O'Keefe to smuggle underage girls across the Mexican border, when in fact Vera had immediately contacted the police after O'Keefe left his office. O'Keefe agreed to pay $100,000 to settle the lawsuit in March 2013.[10]

Suit Against ACORN

CIR also represented Anita MonCrief, former employee of ACORN's subsidiary Project Vote, in her countersuit against ACORN "for abuse of process" in the organization's suit against MonCrief "alleging she committed trademark infringement and other torts in connection with her blogging and emailing about the intertwined groups," as CIR described it.[11][12] MonCrief is now a regular contributor to right-wing blogs such as "Big Government, Hot Air, NetRight Daily, RedState [and] NewsReal Blog."[13] As of May 2011, she was also a spokesperson for American Majority and editor-in-chief of the website Emerging Corruption.[14]

Challenges to Affirmative Action

CIR litigated the affirmative action case Grutter v. Bollinger in which the Supreme Court chose to uphold affirmative action admission practices at the University of Michigan Law School in 2003.[15]

CIR litigated the affirmative action case Gratz v. Bollinger in which the Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that the University of Michigan's Undergraduate Admissions' point system was unconstitutional.[15] Though the universities affirmative action policies were overall upheld in Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court voted against the specific process of assigning minority applicants with a default of 20 points towards their admission decision (admittance was granted at 100 points).[16]

In 1996, CIR's Hopwood v. Texas case nearly succeeded in severely limiting diversity programs at the University of Texas but was overturned by the Supreme Court.[15]

In 2001, CIR's represented the sponsors of Proposition 209, a referendum which would primarily eliminate state affirmative action programs in California.[15]

A list of further cases can be found via CIR's case finder.

College Campaign Against Affirmative Action

In 1999, CIR began an aggressive campaign encouraging students to sue their colleges for considering racial identity in admission decisions. CIR placed advertisements in at least fifteen campus papers outlining the process and providing resources for students to investigate and charge their schools.[17] Some successful examples of this campaign are Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger.[18]

Funding

CIR, which does not disclose its funders, took in $2.69 million in revenue in 2013, $2.15 million of which was from grants and other contributions.[19] The following organizations have reported giving grants to CIR, according to tax data compiled by the American Bridge Foundation's Conservative Transparency Project[20] and by the Center for Media and Democracy:

Ties to the Koch Brothers

Koch Wiki

The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

CIR received a $40,000 contribution from the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, a Koch family foundation, in 2007. CIR also received $671,800 from the Koch conduits DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund between 2003 and 2012.[20]

DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund are both "donor-advised funds," which means that they divide their funds into separate accounts for individual donors, who then recommend disbursements from the accounts to different non-profits. Funds like DonorsTrust are not uncommon in the non-profit sector, but they do cloak the identity of the original donors because the funds are typically distributed in the name of DonorsTrust rather than the original donors.[21] Very little was known about DonorsTrust until late 2012 and early 2013, when The Guardian and others published extensive reports on what Mother Jones called "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement."[22][23]

The group receives most of its funding from libertarian and conservative foundations such as those run by Richard Mellon Scaife.[24]

Core Finances

2013:[19]

  • Total Revenue: $2,691,252
  • Total Expenses: $2,339,171
  • Net Assets: $2,704,461

2012:[25]

  • Total Revenue: $1,482,104
  • Total Expenses: $1,476,916
  • Net Assets: $2,412,380

2011:[26]

  • Total Revenue: $1,821,736
  • Total Expenses: $1,742,721
  • Net Assets: $2,407,252

History

The Center for Individual Rights is a conservative U.S. public interest law firm started in April 1989. According to CIR's website, its "founders, Michael McDonald and Michael Greve, met through their work at the Washington Legal Foundation. McDonald, an attorney, specialized in First Amendment litigation and had launched WLF's Legal Studies Division in 1987; Greve, in turn, wrote on environmental issues and assisted with WLF's fundraising."[27]

Personnel

Staff (as of July 2015):[28]

  • Terence J. Pell, President
  • Michael E. Rosman, General Counsel
  • Christopher J. Hajec, Associate Counsel
  • Michelle A. Scott, Associate Counsel

Board of Directors (as of July 2015):[29]

  • Jeremy A. Rabkin, (Chairman) professor of International Law at the George Mason Law School.
  • Larry P. Arnn, President of Hillsdale College.
  • Robert P. George, Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University.
  • James B. Mann, Principal of Sunlight General Capital LLC
  • Arthur Stephen Penn, retired president of Elmrock Capital, Inc.
  • James Piereson, President of the William E. Simon Foundation
  • Gerald Walpin, retired senior partner and Chair of the Litigation Department of Katten Muchin Rosenman
  • Mark S. Venezia, retired from Eaton Vance Management

Former:

Contact

Center for Individual Rights
1233 20th Street, N.W., Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-833-8400
Fax: 202-833-8410
E-mail: cir AT cir-usa.org
Web: http://www.cir-usa.org

Resources and Articles

Related Sourcewatch Articles

External Articles

References

  1. Center for Individual Rights Equal Protection Cases, organization website listing recent court cases, accessed July 1, 2015
  2. Center for Individual Rights Civil Rights Cases, organization website, accessed July 1, 2015
  3. Center for Individual Rights Dale v. Boy Scouts of America, organization website, accessed July 1, 2015.
  4. Supreme Court of the United States, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, SCOTUS Blog, accessed July 1, 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Lyle Denniston, New Threat to Public Employee Unionism, SCOTUS Blog, accessed July 1, 2015.
  6. Center for Individual Rights Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association et al., organization website, accessed July 1, 2015
  7. Linda Greenhouse, "Justice(s) at Work," The New York Times, February 6, 2013.
  8. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, "Shelby County v. Holder," organizational website, accessed July 2, 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Center for Individual Rights James O'Keefe Challenges California Anti-Tape Recording Law, organization website, March 15, 2011, accessed July 1, 2015
  10. Kevin Robillard, "James O’Keefe agrees to pay $100,000 settlement," Politico, March 8, 2013.
  11. Center for Individual Rights Lawsuit against Anita MonCrief dismissed, organization website, April 6, 2010, accessed May 10, 2011
  12. Center for Individual Rights Case dismissed, organization website, April 6, 2010, accessed July 1, 2010
  13. Andrew Breitbart Anita MonCrief, BigGovernment.com profile, accessed May 10, 2011
  14. Anita Moncrief Editorial Board, Emerging Corruption website, accessed May 10, 2011
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Brendan Fischer, For Bradley Foundation, Challenging Affirmative Action & Voting Rights Is Part of Long-Term Crusade, PR Watch, June 27, 2013.
  16. US Supreme Court Center, Gratz v. Bollinger, Justia.com, 2003.
  17. Laura Flanders, Affirmative Racism, The Nation, February 18, 1999.
  18. CIR website, Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, accessed July 1, 2015.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Center for Individual Rights, 2013 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 14, 2014.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Conservative Transparency Project, The Center for Individual Rights, funding profile, accessed July 7, 2015.
  21. Rebekah Wilce, A Reporters' Guide to the "State Policy Network" -- the Right-Wing Think Tanks Spinning Disinformation and Pushing the ALEC Agenda in the States, PRWatch.org, April 4, 2013.
  22. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  23. Suzanne Goldenberg, "Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks," The Guardian, February 14, 2013.
  24. Center for Individual Rights, Media Transparency, accessed November 2010.
  25. Center for Individual Rights, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 19, 2013.
  26. Center for Individual Rights, 2011 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, July 30, 2012.
  27. History of CIR, Center for Individual Rights, accessed July 1, 2015.
  28. Center for Individual Rights, "Staff," organizational website, accessed July 1, 2015.
  29. Center for Individual Rights, "Board of Directors," organizational website, accessed July 1, 2015.