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Kudos to Kent Willis
AMERICANS may be born rich or
Mr. Willis, of Fredericksburg, is stepping down soon from his leadership of the Virginia ACLU, where he's worked for 25 years. During that period he and his staff have legally shielded the personal liberties of Virginians from overbearing governments, corporations, and various manifestations of The Majority. Like soldiers on the battlefield who protect American freedom from foreign despots, Mr. Willis and his breed safeguard it from domestic threats, which are no less dire because they stem from wrongheadedness rather than a lust for conquest.
"A-C-L-U" is a letter sequence that brings sneers in some circles. Those on the right wonder why the organization has failed to detect a single liberty inherent to unborn children, or why its leonine defense of the First Amendment becomes less than a pipsqueak regarding the Second. It is true that the ACLU, including its Virginia chapter, tilts left. But some nuances need to be noted.
First, the Virginia ACLU, more than once in a blue moon, has been a de facto friend to conservatives--whether scolding Lexington for banning the Rebel flag from flagpoles; opining that Floyd County students could freely post the Ten Commandments on their lockers; or befriending a Christian day care in Fredericksburg that wished to open a school for special-needs kids against City Council's wishes. In such cases, Mr. Willis' ACLU clove to a principle--regarding speech, religion, or assembly--rather than side with its customary secular or progressive allies.
Second, the ACLU has never (accusations of dark pettifogging sorcery aside) invented a single right. At most, it has brought neglected rights to light--lest they become permanently lost to Republic and commonwealth.
And through this endless episodic battle in Virginia, the advocate now bowing out has been respectful of adversaries, forthright, and good-humored. Vaya con dios, Mr. Willis--even into official governmental meetings.