By editorial board • 

Editorial: Monitoring government a noble cause to pursue

The American Civil Liberties Union has begun training local volunteers to monitor federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity at the Yamhill County Courthouse.

As a result, some members of our community seem to have worked themselves into a lather, judging from comments posted in our online forum. One poster called the ACLU “the single greatest threat to our country”; another suggested the volunteers might be flirting with criminal obstruction of justice, and a third branded them “leftists” who should “go back home to the San Francisco Bay Area,” where they presumably belonged.

But we see no grounds to find fault with such a civic-minded pursuit. Having dedicated our lives to monitoring the workings of government, we welcome the infusion of new eyes and ears serving in a common cause.

As journalists know all too well, rot tends to take root in the dark corners any time government activity is allowed to continue unmonitored and unimpeded for a significant period of time. That’s true at all levels — local, state, national and international.

Unfortunately, the ranks of professional journalists are thinning at an alarming rate, paving the way for unscrupulous officials to line personal pockets and further secret agendas, trample fundamental rights and crush dissent, amass power of proportions threatening our democratic foundations.

The ACLU has been vilified on the right without foundation. In fact, it has defended the civil rights of militant right wing groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party, Christian religious organizations like Jehovah’s Witnesses, gun rights bulwarks like the National Rifle Association and conservative national icons, Rush Limbaugh and Oliver North.

The ACLU is in the business of defending the constitutional rights of all Americans, regardless of creed, color or cause. That led its Massachusetts arm to argue: “In fact, the ACLU is, in many ways, our nation’s most conservative organization. Our main job is to conserve America’s original civic values as written in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

No governmental agency should be left to wield power unchecked, which most certainly includes ICE. It has established a long record of rights violations, particularly since falling under the sway of the current administration’s virulent immigration policy.

Two years ago, Thomas Balmer, then serving as chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, urged authorities to curb ICE’s penchant for turning courthouses into danger zones. He warned: “The state of Oregon needs to encourage, not discourage, court appearances by parties and witnesses, regardless of their immigration status. However, ICE’s increasingly visible practice of arresting or detaining individual in or near courthouses for possible violations of immigration laws is developing into a strong deterrent ...”

Unfortunately, his plea fell on deaf ears. The administration made it emphatically clear it did not intend to rein ICE in.

When the highest powers in the land refuse to protect fundamental rights, citizens have just cause for maintaining a peaceful and lawful watch for violations and exposing any they observe. The volunteers deserve our gratitude, not our disdain.


Bill B

Another left-leaning editorial from the staff at the news register or is that just Mr Bagwell? So correct me if I am incorrect, but does the ACLU charter include protecting the rights of illegal aliens?

Sally G

Thank you to the Editorial Board for their important and thoughtful words. I also appreciate the quote from former Chief Justice of Oregon's Supreme Court, Thomas Balmer.


When I started to read this I thought it might be an interesting read until I got past the first sentence and into the second paragraph and the whole article went south. Or, should I say "left". What a bunch of crap! The News Register editorial board is just like most of the rest of the media --- liberal bias!
Get real people!


And yet I am sure these same types wouldn’t want an apartment complex filled with illegals anywhere near their tony all white liberal neighborhoods!? Hypocrites.


Don’t forget to sign the recall Kate Brown petitions, folks!


The ACLU is a far left political organization that selectivity supports the constitution, so long that it aligns with their political beliefs.

At one point they were neutral, but those days are long behind us.

You’d think even the folks at the News Register could research this and figure it out.

No wonder “the ranks of professional journalists are thinning at an alarming rate”.

All we have now are worthless editorial opinion pieces from either the far left or far right.

Both are equally dangerous.



These California leftists kowtow to the illegal aliens and give them shelter and welfare yet do little to nothing for our elderly citizens , the mentally ill , other disadvantaged USA citizens. If they would be as equally impassioned for our own citizens we wouldn’t have massive homelessness on the west coast. Sanctuary law is squarely to blame for this self inflicted housing crisis.


I expected the ACLU to be more outraged at the raiding of Trump's personal attorney's office where the FBI took, and wanted to review, everything, in 2018. I guess I'm an old fashioned civil libertarian that way. BTW - there was a leak of bank records from that material in short order by Michael Avenatti.

Jeb Bladine

Bill B,

You raise an interesting question that has been long debated. Here's a link to an interesting article about the application of constitutional rights to all persons, citizen or not. Many would disagree, but judicial interpretation of the Constitution holds a great deal of influence.


Curious how the article casually ties the Klan and Nazis with the NRA, North an Limbaugh. I disagree with the label of far right for each. The Klans founding from the Democrat party and the Nazi association with socialism is without question.

Bill B

Thank you Jeb. As usual, the issue is not all that clear I guess the next question I have is why are we spending more time on folks that are here illegally than those who are citizens of the USA. Why is it OK to condone certain illegal acts, but not others?


If a legal immigrant is convicted certain crimes they get deported. I don't understand why someone here illegally isn't at least held the same standard as a legal migrant.


This was from an oregonlive article yesterday. Oregonlive classifies the ACLU as a prominent liberal group.

“The last time Oregon voters were asked whether campaign donations should be limited, a prominent liberal group was among the most vocally opposed: The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.”

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