Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash
Civil society organizations are on the front lines of advocating for or against the most divisive issues in the United States. The following list is organized by rights. The links are almost entirely to civil society organizations fighting to protect the rights to free expression, free assembly, voting, reproduction, and work. Their civil society opponents on these issues are noted under each section.
(I'm sure there's more to add here - feel free to send additions to @mastodon.social@p2173 or comment below)
Book bans, educational censorship and attacks on free expression
Pen America reports there have been 86 state bills proposed that would censor a wide swath of educational materials and ban books, mostly on Black people, LGTBQ+ people, and discussions of critical race and queer theory (college level). An increasing number of these bills allow a single person to request removal of any number of books, and for those books to be removed before any kind of review. Thirty-two states and more than 150 school districts have implemented book bans.
Notable nonprofits for book bans:
Moms for Liberty, formed in 2021, has 200 local chapters. It is both a c3 and a c4. Other national groups with branches include US Parents Involved in Education (50 chapters), No Left Turn in Education (25), MassResistance (16), Parents’ Rights in Education (12), Mary in the Library (9), County Citizens Defending Freedom USA (5), and Power2Parent (5).
Another 38 state, regional, or community groups advocating for book removals appear unaffiliated with the national groups or with one another.
Notable nonprofits against: PEN America, American Library Association, many others
Protest bans and attacks on free assembly
Thirty-nine states have passed laws limiting protest. While a handful of jurisdictions have passed laws limiting the use of facial recognition by police, most places have not done so. In 2021, half of the 42 US federal agencies that are part of law enforcement owned or used facial recognition technology. Corporate use of SLAPP lawsuits against individual protestors are rising in numbers. Open carry laws for handguns exist in 36 states and you can carry a long gun openly in 44 states. Guns at protests are hard to square with the idea of peacable assembly.
Notable organizations promoting protest bans: Police associations, Republican officials,
Notable organizations fighting against them: Civil Liberties Defense Center, ACLU, BLMhttps://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/open-carry-states
Notable organizations promoting voting restrictions: Americans For Prosperity, Heritage Foundation, ALEC
Have split the U.S. in two - with 24 states banning access to abortion. These states are also adding vigilante bonuses and surveilling communications and travel.
Notable organizations promoting reproductive restrictions: see this list
Right to work
These laws, whose name implies one thing but which actually focus on restricting the right for labor to organize, exist in 27 of the 50 states.
Notable organizations promoting voting restrictions: Americans For Prosperity, Heritage Foundation, ALEC, Republican Party
Notable organizations fighting against restrictions: AFL-CIO, SEIU, Center for American Progress, Democrats
Behind all of these organizations are donors. Some are heavily supported by individuals, others by foundations, others by corporations. Many rely on crowdfunding or on a mix of all of these funding structures. Behind each issue, on each side, is a mix of 501c4 and 501c3 organizations - an approach that makes it easy to hide the identities of donors whose interests are primarily political but who desire anonymity. New case law on donor anonymity in such situations, and conservative groups efforts to enable even greater anonymity for political donors, further complicates our ability to know who is funding what.
I don't have a conclusion to offer to this post. Yet. Instead, view this as "first draft thinking" for Blueprint 2024. I welcome your feedback.