The Department of Justice’s subpoena against Eagle Forum of Alabama (EFA) has been essentially quashed, according to the organization's executive director Becky Gerritson.
In September, the DOJ demanded all information related to the non-profit's legislative activities promoting the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act (VCAP), which banned transgender hormones and surgeries for people under 19.
Immediately after VCAP was signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki threatened Alabama officials by saying they were being "put on notice" by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, vowing President Joe Biden would hold them accountable.
On Friday, a federal judge in Montgomery said he would allow the DOJ to follow through on their commitment to withdraw the subpoena. However, the DOJ could still file a new subpoena with new requests.
According to Gerritson, the subpoena initially requested 11 broad categories of information pertaining to VCAP. The DOJ came back later and lowered the list to only five items. On Friday, Oct 7, EFA's attorney received an email stating the DOJ was withdrawing the subpoena. Then, fewer than two hours later, EFA's attorney received a voicemail from a DOJ attorney saying the email was sent by mistake and that they did want one item not listed on the original subpoena.
Gerritson, appearing on Phil Williams' Rightside Radio, said the DOJ is now requesting information contained within VCAP that was inserted by the legislature, not by EFA. Namely, the DOJ wants the medical studies cited within the text of VCAP.
"The judge is writing an order, and we will see the fine print, but basically, he did quash it," Gerritson said. "We are not having to answer any of the things in those original 11 categories. But he did leave the door open for them to issue another one, to try to find these medical studies. I thought it was interesting. The legislature is responsible for this bill. My thought is, why don't they go to the legislature and find out what studies they used in writing those findings?"
Gerittson said the judge expressed confusion as to how the requested information could be relevant to the constitutionality of VCAP, as well as expressing disapproval with the broad nature of the request.
"Basically, [the judge] told the court, 'I have read through everything, I've been preparing for this,' so he really knew everything; there were a lot of court filings that took place over this one issue," Gerritson said. "He proceeded to say that, when he read the subpoena itself, before reading the motions, before reading any other declarations, he was basically stunned at how vastly over-broad the subpoena was.
"It was jaw-dropping. [The DOJ] want[s] emails, every email that has anything to do with VCAP, to a legislator, to the governor, to the lieutenant governor, to another lobbyist, to a third party. They wanted to see social media posts, to see policy objectives, our strategy, any opinion data that we would have used, any meeting notes that we would have taken; they wanted all of that. … I think they got caught asking for things they are not entitled to and things they really had no business asking."
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