The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is being challenged in court by one of the organizations they have labeled as a “hate group.” According to The Washington Times, U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins is allowing the case to go to court in Alabama, despite the SPLC asking him to toss it out. The plaintiff is the founder of the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society, D.A. King, who said his group that supports legal immigration but opposes illegal immigration was labeled as an “anti-immigrant hate group.”
King has filed a defamation lawsuit, saying that the “hate group” label has cost his group fundraising and exposure since some news outlets will not allow them to provide perspective due to the SPLC’s label. King said that it is “ridiculous” for his group to be labeled an “anti-immigrant hate group” when his sister, who is an adoptive immigrant, sits on the society’s board among other immigrants. King’s case also includes the “changing narrative” by SPLC in which his group initially was not labeled a “hate group” for not meeting the SPLC’s definition of one, but a few years later they found themselves planted on the list.
The lawsuit against the SPLC has already accomplished something, King argued, stating that “[the SPLC] have already told a federal court that their ‘hate group’ designation doesn’t mean the designation is factual. We hope to allow the SPLC to expose themselves in court…We want an apology and a retraction.”
This case would not be the first time the SPLC would need to issue an apology. According to The Washington Times, “SPLC has apologized for some of its work, including a 2015 listing of Republican Ben Carson as an extremist and a 2018 settlement with a Muslim activist, Maajid Nawaz, whom it oddly labeled an anti-Muslim extremist. SPLC acknowledged that it didn’t do enough to learn about Mr. Nawaz’s organization before using the label.” The SPLC also contributed to the FBI’s decision to investigate “radical traditional Catholic ideology,” as revealed by a leaked memo.
If King prevails in his case, it could mean the SPLC will face more scrutiny. Despite the SPLC’s efforts to maintain the reputation it wants to have of being a group with the authority to label others as “hate groups,” their actions have led to much questioning of their integrity.