ACLU scores candidates on civil liberties

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has released a candidate report card, dubbed Liberty Watch 2012, that weighs the Republcians hopefuls, now-Libertarian Gary Johnson and President Barack Obama on various civil liberties issues, including ending torture, closing Gitmo, and ending the surveillance state.

To be clear, I don’t necessarily agree with the ACLU on all of the issues weighed, but the group has been great on fighting for privacy and personal liberty. The ACLU’s rundown on these issue, from the perspective of the Republican candidates, is interesting:

Just in time for the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, we’re releasing a report card today, with the ACLU’s Constitution and civil liberties experts providing a critical assessment of the major candidates of all parties, grading them with four to zero constitutional “torches” on seven key issues, including national security, immigration, marriage equality and reproductive choice. More issues will be added.

We may surprise some people in that the scores in the report card — which is viewable here — don’t divide along party lines. In fact, the report card reveals a deep ideological rift in the GOP.

Our experts found that Republicans Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman earned solid scores, with four, three and two torches across most major categories, although both received one torch on marriage equality and none on reproductive rights.

President Obama also achieved solid scores or better across most categories, including four torches for ending the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. However, he received just one torch and none for keeping Guantanamo Bay open and continuing unconstitutional surveillance under the PATRIOT act, respectively.

Republican-turned-Libertarian Gary Johnson scored even better than Paul, Huntsman and Obama, earning four and three torches on most major issues. They stand in stark contrast to the other major GOP candidates, three of whom — Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum — didn’t earn a single torch in any of the seven major categories.

Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich received torches in only one category: two torches each for promoting a humane immigration policy, including their support for a path to legal status for some long-term residents.

It’s clear that Obama has been disappointing on civil liberties, especially with the recent signing of the NDAA. The problem is that none of the so-called “serious” Republican candidates — for example, Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich — represents any real change from the status quo.

Sadly, unless you’re willing to vote for Gary Johnson in the fall (since Ron Paul is unlikely to win the GOP nomination, you’re stuck picking from the two Big Brother candidates, which are disguised as a Republican and a Democrat.

ACLU Liberty Watch Report Card


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