Eagle Forum of Alabama (EFA) yesterday filed a motion in U.S. federal district court seeking to quash the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) unprecedented subpoena of August 9, 2022 demanding all information related to the non-profit’s legislative activities promoting the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion And Protection Act (VCAP) since 2017.
You can read this astonishing political attack on the Eagle Forum of Alabama by the Biden Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Prim F. Escalona and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason R. Cheek through this link.
In her Memo of Record to the Eagle Forum of Alabama Board, Margaret S. Clarke, General Counsel, Eagle Forum of Alabama wrote, “This is an unprecedented request by the United States Department of Justice to a non-party 501(c)(4) private social welfare organization. This should cause every single advocacy group or individual in America engaged in the legislative process to pause and consider the potential ramifications if any part of this subpoena is allowed to stand.
“In over 45 years of policy and legislative reform efforts, to my knowledge, neither EFA nor any of its sister-state organizations, nor the national Eagle Forum working in Washington have ever been subpoenaed pertaining to their legislative reform efforts. This would completely undermine the entire process by threatening advocates, pro or con, with record production.”
Attorney Clarke further noted, "The Rules of Civil Procedure require subpoenas be issued in good-faith and only request discovery relevant to the issues and in proportion to the needs of the case. The subpoena in question asks for the production of all documents by EFA , emails, social media posts, summaries, analysis, fact sheets, talking points, drafts of legislation including those from third parties, policies, goals, strategies, initiatives, polling, public opinion data, minutes, records, presentations, interviews, mass mailouts, emails, videos and all communications with government and non-government organizations or individuals including member legislators, employees, the Attorney General, lobbyists, consultants, etc., from 2017 which detail EFA’s legislative activities related to the VCAP."
“This is potentially a case of political harassment,” charged Eagle Forum General Counsel Margaret S. Clarke. “The voluminous requests would be a massive and undue burden on EFA which is comprised almost entirely of volunteer Alabama citizens. This is an unwarranted and oppressive burden by the United States government to place on those who are exercising their constitutional rights to political free speech and conscience, freedom of association, and freedom to petition the government. If this subpoena is enforced it will have an unprecedented chilling effect on historically protected Constitutional rights and legislative advocacy in Alabama and possibly around America.”
“At stake here is the ability of all private citizen advocates and non-profit advocacy organizations to engage in the legislative process regardless of their viewpoint,” said Kristen A. Ullman, President of Eagle Forum. “If the DOJ can weaponize a subpoena, any American can be unduly burdened and prevented from engaging in our democratic republic form of government. Freedom of speech and freedom of association will be squelched.”
“This unprecedented, massive demand by the DOJ for information unrelated to the issues before the court is a blatant attempt to intimidate and silence a non-party organization and crush its Constitutionally-protected rights to educate others, petition the government, and speak freely,” said Ullman. “This harassment must be stopped. It’s a shot across the bow of people and groups engaged in the legislative process throughout the nation. If the Department of Justice doesn’t like your viewpoint it may target you next.”
You can read the Eagle Forum motion to quash the subpoena through this link.
“After hearing from citizens in Alabama, including parents, doctors, lawyers, and guidance counselors, about their concerns for otherwise healthy children who want to transition to the opposite sex, we decided to undertake the protection of these vulnerable children and have done so publicly and ardently,” said Executive Director of Eagle Forum of Alabama, Becky Gerritson. “Eagle Forum of Alabama operates primarily by volunteer Alabama citizens. The right to engage in these activities, free of compulsion and harassment, must be preserved.”
VCAP became effective on May 8, 2022, following consideration in three successive legislative sessions including seven public hearings and passionate legislative campaigns conducted by proponent and opponent advocacy groups and individuals. Final passage was by large majorities in both Alabama chambers.
The constitutionality of Alabama’s VCAP law is the subject of Eknes-Tucker, et. al. v. Marshall, et. al., a lawsuit filed in the US District Court on April 19, 2022. On April 29, 2022, the DOJ filed a motion to join as an intervenor-party to the lawsuit. Eagle Forum of Alabama is not a party in this legal action. The DOJ subpoena is broad, intrusive, and meant to harass. It seeks 5 ½ years of information, including: all private communications with legislators or anyone else regarding VCAP; every note, meeting-minutes, letter, policy goals and strategy effort, speech, presentation materials, research, polling; drafts of the bill or its amendments (which can be found on the legislative website); and documents pertaining to publicly-posted social media and webpages, etc.
Our perspective on this is that it is another example of Democrats making the process part of the punishment. And it is the latest act of the hyper-politicized Biden Justice Department to chill, if not entirely prohibit, conservative speech and political participation. If this subpoena stands then no conservative organization or individual is safe in their First Amendment rights. We urge CHQ readers and friends to visit the Eagle Forum of Alabama website to learn more about this outrageous attack on the First Amendment by the Biden Department of Justice and to make a donation, however large or small, to assist EFA in defending the First Amendment rights of all conservatives.
Eagle Forum of Alabama
Motion to Quash Subpoena
Joe Biden Department of Justice
Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion And Protection Act (VCAP)
U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason R. Cheek
Margaret S. Clarke, General Counsel, Eagle Forum of Alabama
Kristen A. Ullman, President of Eagle Forum
Executive Director of Eagle Forum of Alabama, Becky Gerritson