Center for Immigration Studies Files a Civil RICO Lawsuit Against the President of Southern Poverty Law Center

By CIS on January 16, 2019

Washington, D.C. (January 16, 2019) – The Center for Immigration Studies has filed a civil lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) of Montgomery, Ala. The case is filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and seeks damages and an injunction prohibiting Cohen and his colleague, Heidi Beirich, who heads the group's "hate group" project, from repeating the false claim that the Center is a hate group.

Read the Complaint.

Overview of the SPLC's "Hate Groups" List.

View Mark Krikorian's Interview with Tucker Carleson on the SPLC Lawsuit.

The case is brought pursuant to the federal RICO statute because Cohen and Beirich have been carrying out their scheme to destroy CIS through the SPLC "enterprise" for two years and will not stop without judicial intervention. "CIS does not hate immigrants or anyone else" said CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian. "Our purpose is to make the case for a pro-immigrant policy of lower immigration – fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted. SPLC attacks us simply because it disagrees with these policy views. SPLC and its leaders have every right to oppose our work on immigration, but they do not have the right to label us a hate group and suggest we are racists. The Center for Immigration Studies is fighting back against the SPLC smear campaign and its attempt to stifle debate through intimidation and name-calling."

The complaint makes clear that SPLC knows CIS does not meet its own definition of a "hate group," which SPLC describes as an organization whose "official statements or principles... attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics." (Complaint, ¶14, quoting from SPLC’s website) CIS has not attacked or maligned immigrants. Moreover, the Supreme Court has held that being an immigrant is not an immutable characteristic because it is the result of a personal choice. (Plyler v. Doe, 487 U.S. 202, 220 (1982).) CIS regularly opposes higher levels of immigration for sound public policy reasons, not because of any animus toward immigrants as human beings. CIS hopes this lawsuit will cause Mr. Cohen and Ms. Beirich to turn their attention to actual cases of racial animus.

For more information contact Marguerite Telford, mrt@cis.org