DOJ official labels the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a “hate group”

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A senior Justice Department official referred to a highly regarded religious liberty organization as a “hate group” in a recent LinkedIn post. 

Eric P. Bruskin, assistant director of the commercial litigation branch in the Justice Department’s Civil Division, used the term to describe Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group founded in 1993.

The Justice Department’s social media policy discourages employee comments that could be “perceived as showing prejudice” toward characteristics such as religion.

Bruskin, previously a lawyer with the ACLU of Massachusetts appeared to follow the lead of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a left-wing group that regularly calls Alliance Defending Freedom and other conservative organizations “hate groups.”

Bruskin used the term “hate group” in responding to a LinkedIn post by Jason Weida, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Massachusetts who now is a state health official in Florida. Weida’s message also praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who routinely is attacked by Democrats.

In his post, Weida wrote: “Honored to speak with [senior counsel] Matt Sharp at Alliance Defending Freedom about the work we’re doing in Florida to protect kids from experimental medical interventions and to defend parental rights, all thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis.” 

Bruskin referred to Alliance Defending Freedom in his reply to Weida, writing: “Jason, this is a hate group. You’re speaking at a conference for a hate group. Are these the beliefs you hold? If so, then it’s time we end our professional association.”

Bruskin’s title, workplace, and the preferred personal pronouns “He/Him” appear next to his name. 

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The Daily Signal sought comment from the Justice Department on Bruskin’s public comment on social media. Justice Department public affairs specialist Danielle Blevins replied Thursday in an email: “I received your inquiry. We’re going to decline to comment.”

Bruskin left the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts to work for the Justice Department in 2009, Barack Obama’s first year as president. In July 2020, he moved into his current career position as assistant director of commercial litigation. 

The Justice Department includes a standard of conduct regarding personal use of social media as part of an employee manual.

This employee policy states that department employees are required at all times to adhere to certain government-wide standards of conduct that apply to online communications, regardless of whether at work, off duty, or using government equipment. The policy says: 

Read it all in the Daily Signal.