"Give me liberty or give me death." -Patrick Henry-
The Individual Rights Foundation ("IRF") is the legal arm of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The IRF has become a nationally-recognized public interest organization that has litigated high-profile conservative and libertarian public interest cases with a proven track record. The IRF has developed an impressive resume of past cases and reported opinions in which it has participated. Currently, the IRF primarily focuses on appellate matters. It has filed amicus briefs in significant constitutional cases, yet performs with a modest operating budget.
The IRF operates primarily through the efforts of General Counsel Manny Klausner and IRF affiliated attorneys. The IRF also operates as the Center’s counsel and provides it with a shield against attacks from hostile sources such as Islamic radical Hussein Ibish’s libel threat against David Horowitz and FrontPage Magazine. Among other notable cases, the IRF successfully represented Matt Drudge in defending him against the widely-followed $30 million libel suit brought by Sidney Blumenthal, President Clinton's senior adviser, in 1997. Michael Ledeen's superb article, "Bye-bye Blumenthal," describes the humiliating loss experienced by Blumenthal -- who dismissed the case against Drudge after paying a portion of Drudge's costs. The article begins, "To get a sense of the magnitude of Sidney Blumenthal's humiliation at the hands of Matt Drudge and his puckish counsel, Manny Klausner, you have to remember how most of the deep thinkers had immediately left Drudge for dead. " Ledeen's article is available athttp://www.jewishworldreview.com/michael/ledeen050701.asp.
A listing of other IRF litigation matters includes:
HOROWITZ v. COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES – LA COUNTY SEAL LITIGATION.After receiving a threat of litigation from the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Los Angeles voted, 3-2, in September 2004 to remove the cross from the County Seal and adopt a new seal to avoid the claim that the design conveyed a constitutional establishment of religion. On September 29, 2004, the IRF, on behalf of ten plaintiffs, with David Horowitz as lead plaintiff, filed a Complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court to challenge the County of Los Angeles’ decision to remove the cross from the County seal, on the grounds that the County’s decision (a) reflected a hostility to religion and violated the federal and California Constitutions, and (b) involved a waste of taxpayer funds. Manny Klausner, IRF’s general counsel worked on this case together with John Eastman of Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and IRF affiliated attorneys, William J. Becker and Don Wagner. The case was ultimately dismissed based on the dismissal of an earlier-filed federal case raising similar issues.
BOY SCOUTS LITIGATION. To support our long-term relationship with the Boy Scouts, the IRF has established a program to assist the Scouts in defending against ongoing legal assaults by the ACLU and other groups. The IRF filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the Boy Scouts' appeal of a case invalidating the Scouts’ long term arrangement with the City of San Diego to use parkland areas. In another case, the IRF filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Boy Scouts' petition for certiorari in Boy Scouts of America v. Wyman, to review a recent case holding that Connecticut's state employee charitable campaign may exclude the Boy Scouts from the charity drive, as a group which discriminates against homosexuals in its leadership positions. No other of the more than 900 charities that received funds from the charity drive, including various gay and lesbian organizations, were excluded. The IRF's brief raised significant issues concerning Connecticut's denial of the Boy Scouts' First Amendment expressive association rights and viewpoint discrimination. The brief was co-authored by IRF affiliated attorney Paul Hoffman and Manny Klausner. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court denied the Boy Scouts' petition for review. The Center has published a pamphlet describing the ACLU’s campaign against the Scouts, a copy of which is available upon request.
ISLER v. BEVERLY HILL UNIFIED HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT - Cal. Superior Court (Los Angeles). The IRF represented long-time educator, Mark Isler, now a talk show host on KABC radio in Los Angeles, who was released as a probationary school teacher by the Beverly Hills Unified School District ("District") because of his conservative political ideology, in violation of fundamental constitutional and statutory rights. The case against the District was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Ultimately, Isler's claims were resolved by a settlement reached in a mediation.
FIREFIGHTERS' CASES - U.S. Dist. Ct. (C.D. Cal.) and Ninth Circuit. The IRF litigated a series of cases in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on behalf of several white and a Hispanic applicant who were discriminated against, based on race, in seeking employment for a position as firefighter in the Los Angeles Fire Department. One of the firefighters was hired by the LAFD as part of a settlement of his suit. Two other cases were unsuccessful. These cases were brought in connection with the IRF's constitutional challenge to a 1974 Consent Decree which required at least 50% of all new firefighter hires to be minorities. After protracted litigation, the Consent Decree was vacated. The District Court judge recognized that the IRF was instrumental in getting the City of Los Angeles and the U.S. Department of Justice to stipulate to an order to vacate the Consent Decree — after it had been used for more than 30 years to impede white applicants from being hired because of their race.
UPDATE: The IRF joined an amici brief in Ricci v. DeStefano — the New Haven firefighters case — that was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court on February 25, 2009. Click here to read more.
LYLE v. WARNER BROS. TELEVISION PRODUCTIONS - Cal. Supreme Ct. The IRF filed an amicus brief in the California Supreme Court in support of Warner Brothers' effort to overturn a decision of the Court of Appeal which needlessly and erroneously interpreted sexual harassment law in an overly broad way that menaced free speech and artistic freedom. The case arose out of a claim of sexual harassment by a former secretary who had been employed by the producers of the TV show, “Friends.” The case involved the use of sexually vulgar language on the set of the show, in connection with creating new programs. The Court of Appeal had ruled that sexual harassment claims could be based on speech that is a necessary part of the job, such as the comments made in producing and airing a situation comedy like "Friends." In a partial victory for the IRF's position, the Supreme Court reversed this holding, in accordance with arguments raised by the IRF's amicus brief, but it did not reach the First Amendment issues that the IRF raised in its brief.
FIRST AMENDMENT VIEWPOINT DISCRIMINATION CASE - Fourth Circuit.The IRF filed an amicus brief in Newsom v. Albermarle County School Board in support of a student's appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals from a case in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The district court affirmed the school board's suspension of the student for wearing a t-shirt with a pro-gun rights message at school. In a significant victory for the IRF's position, the Fourth Circuit entered its judgment vacating the decision of the district court.
PUBLICATIONS. Manny Klausner contributed to a chapter on "equality under law" for Lee Edwards' informative new book for Heritage Foundation, "Bringing Justice to the People," on the freedom-based public interest law movement. The book discusses the contributions made by the IRF and other conservative/libertarian public interest law organizations.
All contributions to the IRF are tax deductible and go towards funding of the IRF's litigation activities in defense of constitutional rights.
If you are a lawyer who would like to learn about pro bono opportunities as an affiliated counsel with the Individual Rights Foundation, please contact Manny Klausner atMKlausner@klausnerinc.com.