The ACLU Is Not Radical Enough for the Modern Democratic Party

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is no friend of Republicans or conservatives, but it has traditionally been a defender of free speech and First Amendment rights, especially for marginalized and unpopular speakers.  While there are signs that its traditional support for civil liberties is waning and being replaced by support for liberal policy goals (the current pop-up on their website reads: "We need you with us: Donate monthly to fight Trump's attacks on people's rights."), the ACLU still will support some First Amendment rights.  For example, earlier this month, the ACLU sent a letter to the House Rules Committee opposing H.R. 1 despite supporting many of its election administration "reforms":

The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of its 3 million members, supporters and activists, opposes H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019 as it was reported out of the House Administration Committee.  We strongly urge the Rules Committee to allow floor amendments that would mitigate our concerns with the provisions that unconstitutionally infringe the freedoms of speech and association. . . .
However, there are also provisions that unconstitutionally impinge on the free speech rights of American citizens and public interest organizations.  They will have the effect of harming our public discourse by silencing necessary voices that would otherwise speak out about the public issues of the day.
The ACLU was particularly concerned with the impact of H.R. 1's provisions on genuine issue advocacy and the ability of organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the NRA to contribute to the public discourse and influence public policy.  The entire letter is well worth reading.
But nothing short of unwavering devotion to the whole set of liberal policy goals is acceptable to the modern Democratic Party.  When Rep. Mark Green raised the ACLU's opposition to H.R. 1 on the House floor last week, House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren said:

Much has been said about the ACLU, and I appreciate what the ACLU does on many scores, but they have a storied history of litigating constitutional issues that I support. However, we have differed on our approach to campaign finance laws. They have upheld and supported the Citizens United decision and they oppose McCain-Feingold. While I support so much of the good work they do, I think they are mistaken on this issue.

This was during debate over an amendment to H.R. 1 offered by Rep. Green that expressed support for free speech and that Democrats opposed and defeated because of this language in the offered amendment:

Political speech, including the financial contributions to political or issue advocacy campaigns, is a vital part of our Nation's free exchange of ideas and avenues of free expression must be preserved and protected.

This was one of the more illuminating moments in the entire debate over H.R. 1.  Not only are modern Democrats not willing to support a statement that political speech is vital to our free exchange of ideas, the ACLU's support for First Amendment free speech and associational rights is no longer acceptable or even persuasive to them.  And this is not only the emerging socialist wing of the Democratic Party; this included every single House Democrat, not one of whom was willing to recognize the ACLU's concerns and vote against H.R. 1.