LGBT activists who are suing the government for banning gender-confused people from military service have persuaded a federal court to subpoena a group not involved in the lawsuit, Liberty Counsel, for thousands of pages of documents.
Calling the activists’ move “bullying,” Liberty Counsel filed an objection instead of providing the documents.
“We will not be bullied or intimidated. This unbelievable invasion of privacy must be exposed and fought, not just for our organization, but to protect the right for anyone to freely communicate with their political or military leaders,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel.
His organization defends civil rights in court but is not part of the lawsuit, Doe vs. Donald Trump, brought by the GLBTQ Legal Advocate and Defenders and National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Nonetheless, the court sent Liberty Counsel a seven-page demand for records of its communications with the president, the vice president, the office of the president, the Department of Defense and others.
“The subpoena was requested by two of the most aggressive LGBT activists groups,” Liberty Counsel explained.
Further, the organization was given only two weeks to compile the documents.
“This subpoena is one of the most onerous and frivolous Liberty Counsel has ever seen and is intended to intimidate. If it was allowed to stand, then anyone could use a lawsuit to harass other people and groups with whom they disagree. It would also significantly chill the free speech of any future groups in their communication with governmental officials. It is a gross overreach of judicial power to target and subpoena groups for no other reason than that they supported a politician or general’s decision,” Liberty Counsel said.
Liberty Counsel said the lawsuit prompting the demand for documents “is retaliation for military policy based on facts with which these individuals and groups disagree.”
“It is an attempt by these radical groups to bully and intimidate this organization. GLAD and NCLR are using subpoena power to deliberately harass pro-faith and pro-family groups like Liberty Counsel, who are not in any way related to the lawsuit.”
“In more than 30 years of practicing law, I have never seen a subpoena like this one,” said Staver. “It directly challenges our constitutional protections and is solely designed to harass and intimidate.”
Liberty Counsel argued in its objection filed with the court that it “has a fundamental First Amendment right to petition the government, to associate with like-minded individuals and organizations, and to engage in protected speech to advocate for its mission.”
“All such freedoms are protected against infringement from overzealous discovery requests … the First Amendment provides strong refuge for organizations advocating their viewpoints and beliefs from disclosing certain information that may be critical to advancing their respective missions.”
Further, Liberty Counsel explained, if it had any communications with any of those government entities that are relevant to the case, the LGBT activists can obtain them through Freedom of Information Act requests.
It was the U.S. District Court in Washington that issued the subpoena at the request of the LGBT groups’ lawyer, Daniel McFadden of the law firm Foley Hoag.
WND tried to obtain a comment from Foley Hoag but got only a repeating answering machine message late Wednesday.
Liberty Counsel argues it is being asked to provide material that is protected by the First Amendment Freedom of Association, Freedom of Speech, Right to Petition Government, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
The demand, Liberty Counsel said, imposes “an unconscionable and undue burden on Liberty Counsel.”