BOOM: Federal Court Tosses Liberty Counsel’s “Hate Group” Designation Suit Against Charity Rating Site

The Chronicle Of Philanthropy reports:

GuideStar, the charity-information site, scored a major victory as a federal court ruled it was in legal bounds to put a hate label on a nonprofit’s profile. A federal judge in Virginia dismissed a lawsuit against GuideStar pursued by the conservative Christian legal-defense group Liberty Counsel.

Judge Raymond Jackson of the Federal District Court in Norfolk, Va., however, said the designation was “an informative statement” and “not commercial speech” in his ruling— and rejected Liberty Council’s claim that its business was affected. Mr. Jackson also dismissed the legal group’s defamation claim.

The nonprofit information site said it backed away from the labels after its staff members had faced threats to their personal safety from opponents of the labels.

Liberty Counsel reacts:

“Despite GuideStar’s admission that it was seeking to influence the purchasing decisions of its constituents and the general public, the court without much analysis ruled such a goal is not commercial in nature,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

“The GuideStar publication was designed to inflict financial harm because its purpose was to affect the financial transactions of the public. The SPLC false label has become discredited and it has proven to be dangerous as history has shown with the attack against Family Research Council. This false label applied to non-violent and law-abiding groups must stop,” said Staver. Liberty Counsel is considering an appeal of the decision.

  • bkmn
    • Jim Hightower

      and an evangelical Christian

    • Droz

      Stealing this for later use.

    • Mike__in_Houston

      Gee. Now to how many “people” would every one of those labels apply? Offhand, I can think of one…

    • Robincho

      Staver’s face is just another in a long line of supremely punchable faces…

  • AtticusP
  • Tawreos

    They have never realized that if they stopped being such hateful shits in both word and deed, they would lose the hate group designation.

    • alguien

      oh, i think they kinda like it now. it gives them something fundraise on.

      • SkokieGuy [Snark McSnarkyface]

        Exactly why having abortion legal is more desirable to the other side than a Federal ban.

        • olandp

          They make boat loads of money crusading against abortion, and get candidates elected who oppose it. With both houses of Congress and the White House in Republicans hands there has never been a Constitutional amendment proposed.

      • Tawreos

        Well they are certainly not going to fundraise on talent.

    • basementmatt

      tl;dr: It’s not mean if it’s true

    • 🐾vorpal🐾

      They claim that the SPLC is a hate group because one mentally ill idiot, Floyd Corkins II, read the list of hate groups on SPLC’s website and went to FRC to commit a shooting.

      The SPLC did not elicit or encourage him to do so in any way, shape, or form. On the other hand, Tony Perkins has claimed:

      * Target’s trans bathroom-inclusive policies have turned Target bathrooms into crime scenes like a real life rendition of CSI.

      * LGBT activists deliberately target children to cut them off from their Christian parents and “confuse” them into the “LGBT lifestyle.”

      * LGBT people in the military make it look like a parade that looks like the bar scene in Star Wars.

      * LGBT people are intolerant, hateful, vile, and spiteful.

      * Bans on “reparative therapy” are locking children into a lifestyle with devastating health, emotional, and social consequences, and opening up a “frightening chapter” in liberal recruiting of LGBT people.

      * LGBT activists will soon start rolling out the boxcars to cart away Christians.

      * Same-sex parents distort the values of children.

      * LGBT people have an emptiness inside of them because we are operating outside of nature.

      * LGBT people have a higher propensity towards suicide because deep down, we realize that our same-sex attractions are abnormal.

      * Pedophilia is a “homosexual problem.”

      * The logic behind same-sex marriage is comparable to the logic behind man-horse marriage.

      * Gay legal advocates are akin to terrorists.

      * Homosexuality is a moral and social evil.

      And when the SPLC quotes him directly, apparently that makes the SPLC a hate group. Conservative Christian logic at its finest.

  • SkokieGuy [Snark McSnarkyface]
  • bkmn
    • another_steve

      ^^ Her cleavage just turned me gay.

      • Mike_in_the_Tundra

        Yeah, that’s what did it.

      • Joe in PA

        And Jared’s legs just turned me straight. 🙁

        • another_steve

          Oh come on. You just want to see them again.

          Nothing wrong with scrawny.

          • Joe in PA

            Steve, Steve, Steve…I’m really starting to question things…just stop. {{shudders}}

          • mpatreyu

            Actually, I’m kinda with Steve on this. Love the shorts

          • Reality.Bites

            Do you also openly fantasize about raping him, like Steve does?

          • mpatreyu

            No. Blocked

          • Robincho

            The olives in my martinis are routinely skewered on items with more substance than Jared’s gams. Did they call him “Rickets” back in boarding school?…

          • Joe in PA

            Oh that’s just mean. I like it. 🙂

      • Bluto
        • Joe in PA

          What are you saying? All I see is a stiff wiener.

      • clay

        just imagine it as the crack of the world’s perkiest bubble butt.

        • another_steve

          Thanks, clay.

          I’m gay again.

  • another_steve

    They who proffer in hate shall so be known.

    ~ the Gospel according to another_steve

  • Bambino

    Another achievement for the acclaimed law firm even the ambulance chasers would not associate themselves with.

  • S1AMER

    Good news!

    Enjoy such legal victories while you can, folks, ’cause all the Trump judicial appointments means we won’t be winning much longer.

    Do what you can to elect Democrats this fall — Senate, House, state government, local offices. We can still save something if we can take at least one house of Congress away from Republicans.

  • It makes me wonder how much money they raised off of this stunt.

    • clay

      Either they’d only complain if it cost them more than they raised off of it, OR they couldn’t raise off of it unless they pursued the court case.

  • kareemachan

    Such sensitive snowflakes….

  • shellback

    This is probably no big deal for Mat. He must be used to losing by now.

  • Judas Peckerwood

    Perfect record… INTACT!

    • clay

      They did win one case.

      Oh, wait, that was an Erik Estrada movie

  • aka “We still have a First Amendment, motherfuckers.”

  • 🐾vorpal🐾

    It’s only the hate groups and their supporters that keep braying that the SPLC’s hate group label has been discredited.

    When you make up sick and twisted narratives about LGBT people in order to elicit discrimination against us and demonize us, you are acting hatefully, engaging in hate speech, and constitute a hate group. The fact that your 2000 year old book of mythology justifies your hatred of us does not void you from that fact.

    • ETownCanuck

      Exactly, just because the Liberty Council discredits it, that doesn’t mean it’s “actually” been discredited.

      • 🐾vorpal🐾

        LOL given that I don’t think he’s won a single case in years, you have to at least admire Matt Staver’s tenacity, even though it’s rooted in hateful stupidity.

        Like Trump, he’s definitely not at risk of getting tired of winning.

        • Bob Conti

          How in hell does he make a living? Doing ambulance chasing PI cases under a different business name?

          • The_Wretched

            Staver’s personally wealthy from LC. The law suit side is a loss leader. He then sends out requests for donations to christian donor lists “to help the mission”. He reports earnings in the millions per year. His wife does as well.

            The point I don’t get is why courts allow him to file cases. He should be disbarred. He doesn’t care if he wins cases or not and runs with “biblical reasoning” when a standard legal theory would have a chance.

          • Bob Conti

            There is no filtering for cases before they’re filed, apart from pro-per plaintiffs who have been declared vexatious litigants and have to get leave of court to file a complaint. You’re right, I forgot all about the fundraising scam. You’d think after a while the donors would stop betting on a horse that consistently comes in dead last.

          • olandp

            They also file cases that are settled as nuisance suits. If they ever get the opportunity they really put the financial screws to those they sue.

          • juanjo54

            This douche bag is not running a real law office as a for profit business. He is a “not for profit” and get contributions form right wing Christians who then get a write off for the amount they donate to charity. He and his wife are the principles in the firm and they make about 1 million each a year in salary and expense reimbursements. Enough that they both drive latest model luxury cars and live in a multi-million dollar house in a gated community in Florida. Liberty Counsel claims to have won a number of cases but the one Supreme Court case they cite to indicates that the action they filed was not a win, they in fact lost. The others I have seen were all situations where they represented someone but the entity they were attacking decided not to fight but instead settled the matter.

          • sfbob

            His salary is paid by the fools who donate to Liberty Counsel. I refer to LC as the group to go to if you want to lose a lawsuit.

    • clay

      and, unless you’re getting paid more for negative reviews than for favorable reviews, it ain’t a commercial decision.

  • Gustav2

    Wait, did the Liberty Counsel argue the Liberty Counsel was a business?

    Well, of course it is.

  • Joe in PA

    The SPLC false label has become discredited…

    Aside from the double-negative part…who exactly did the “discrediting”? Hmmm.

    • Gustav2

      Their own internal audit.

      • Joe in PA

        Dammit, I meant to add: ,besides yourself.

        Ya gotta be fast around here. 🙂

        • Gustav2


        • clay

          fast and easy could almost be a motto.

          • Joe in PA


  • Mark McGovern

    Whatever happened to it being a badge of honour amongst those groups?

    • clay

      they lost more donor revenue than they gained with the increased martyrdom

  • Boreal

    This is good news. The only discrediting is done by fraudulent grifters that go by the names of Matt and Anita Staver.

  • Bob M

    “The GuideStar publication was designed to inflict financial harm
    because its purpose was to affect the financial transactions of the
    public” So what about all those boycotts against Disney and various TV programs that you are promoting. If you side does it it is okay…

  • JWC

    this guy was. is and always will be an illiterate misinformed asshole

    • Mikey

      careful, he might sue you for telling the truth!

    • clay

      He’s the (former) Dean of on (online) Law School!

      • JWC

        who cares

        • clay

          Not even Falwell.

  • GanymedeRenard
  • Perfect litigation record, Liberty Council! Way to go!

  • leo77

    Those two paragraphs of word drool from LC.

    Yes an organization that publishes a consumer guide does potentially influence consumers decisions. That’s sort of intrinsic in the mission. And yes that, um might affect financial tranactions. Duh. So what?

    It’s not commercial in nature, yes becasue it’s simply reportage. Guidestar does not “design” reviews to produce a certain outcome. They report so people can make informed decisions.

    If you followed LC logic any product that ever received a poor review from any publication would have a valid law suit, and I don’t remember Chrysler/Plymouth ever successfully suing Consumer Reports back in 70’s and 80’s.

  • clay

    Be careful what you ask for, LC, if you’d won, then all those ‘political education’ Super PACs would actually be engaging in taxable, and limited, commercial speech.

  • Bob Conti


    You lost. You can be non-violent and law abiding and still be a hate group.

    • Reality.Bites

      But not a Republican. Not if you’re law abiding.

    • -M-

      As clearly defined by the SPLC. It’s not some arbitrary label that they or GuideStar slapped on them.

  • Jean-Marc in Canada

    Here’s a rule of thumb many should consider:

    If you don’t want to be called racist, don’t act like a racist
    If you don’t want to be called a hate group, don’t act like a hate group
    If you don’t want to be called a thuggish cop, don’t act like a thuggish cop
    If you don’t want to be called a homophobe, don’t act like a homophobe

    This concept is useful in any and all situations where one might be feeling put upon for being labeled. If you don’t want to be “whatever”, don’t act like it and yes, it really is that simple.

    • Robincho

      Je t’aime, tu et tes paroles les plus sages…

  • The_Wretched

    “inflict financial harm”
    by reporting facts

    okay then.

  • -M-

    Charitable donation isn’t exactly a purchase.

    Much like buyers though, donors are entitled to make informed choices.

  • Rebecca Gardner

    Have they ever succeeded in court?

    • Steve Teeter

      I got a chance to ask a liberal civil rights lawyer that question. He answered, yes, sometimes, but not very often. He saw I was wearing a rainbow pin and added that he doesn’t think they have ever won a case on gay and gay rights issues.

  • Jefe5084

    Liberty Counsel just keeps on loving the “winning.” /s

  • Robincho

    Occasionally this douche is referred to as Matt Staver. It is not Matt Staver. It is MAT Staver, and mats are for stepping on…

  • DesertSun59

    It is quite literally impossible to name a single evangelical group that aren’t grifters.
    They peddle in fantasy and delusion while taking money to give said ‘products’ to people.

  • LeeCMH

    E v i l g e l i c a l s

  • Richard B
  • rednekokie

    About time.

  • DaveMiller135

    Mat: When your group’s statement of purpose can be summarized as: “Down with homos,” you are a hate group. Wear it as a badge of distinction. Or fix it. Your choice.

  • Chalk up one for reason and against hate.

  • EdmondWherever

    its staff members had faced threats to their personal safety from opponents adherents of the labels.

    Fixed THAT shit.

    “The GuideStar publication was designed to inflict financial harm because its purpose was to affect the financial transactions of the public….” said Staver.

    “Ow, no fair, they hurt me in my money!”

  • JCF
  • Texpat

    Dead at the pulse nightclub in Orlando, 49 victims of adherence to the anti-gay ideals of the family research Council. Dead at the FRC, zero. Hey Matt don’t tell us how dangerous it is to be a targeted minority. You have no idea

  • Regan DuCasse

    Does anyone know what the ADF and Liberty Counsel’s win/loss ratio is with their court cases?
    They seem to be the equivalent of ambulance chasers, if and when they smell an opportunity to tell someone they are challenging who they perceive to be anti gay.
    I’d really be interested to know how many cases they win. If any.
    It really doesn’t look like they win at all.