Federal court stays DOJ request for communications from conservative group

A federal judge has denied the Justice Department’s request for information from a conservative advocacy group about its lobbying for an Alabama ban on gender-transitional treatment for youth.

Judge Liles Burke of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Alabama said the government’s request was far-reaching.

“The subpoenas, as written, are overly broad and unduly burdensome,” Trump appointee Judge Burke wrote in his seven-page order on Monday. “Given the relevance (or lack thereof) of the material requested, the production load, the resources of the non-parties and the government’s own conduct, the Court finds that the subpoenas are beyond the scope of discovery.”

The judge noted that the Justice Department may file a new subpoena narrower in its requirements.

The organization, Eagle Forum of Alabama, had called the subpoena “unprecedented” – noting that the group was not party to a transgender rights lawsuit seeking to overturn Alabama’s law.

Transgender children and their parents have sued the state of Alabama to challenge Alabama’s Compassionate and Protect Vulnerable Children Act, which was passed this year to criminalize medical assistance to young people in gender transition.

The plaintiffs claim that the law prohibits parents from seeking medical care for their children.

The Justice Department sought to intervene in the litigation and obtain information from the Eagle Forum of Alabama about its lobbying and advocacy for the law.

The subpoena requested several years of documents from the organization, but attorneys for Eagle Forum of Alabama argued that the court should deny the DOJ’s requests because turning over the documents would violate First Amendment rights.

Kristen Ullman, president of the conservative organization Eagle Forum, said Monday’s decision was a victory for the advocacy group and free speech.

“We have successfully defended the rights of private citizens and non-profit organizations to engage in the legislative process when their perspective differs from that of government,” Ms. Ullman said. “The DOJ fought hard to harass a group of concerned volunteer citizens and should view their loss today as a reminder that they have awakened a sleeping giant. The court made it clear that the government’s attempt to silence votes with which he disagrees by demanding irrelevant documents will not be allowed.

A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alabama’s Compassionate and Vulnerable Child Protection Act was scheduled to go into effect in May but has been blocked, in part, by an injunction while the trial is ongoing.


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