The U.S. government and other plaintiffs sued the state of Alabama to enjoin a state law that prohibits the administration of certain gender identity-related medical treatments, including puberty blockers and surgeries, to minors. Unsurprisingly, the litigation is fraught with political overtones.
During an early preliminary injunction hearing, the district judge asked who drafted the text of the bill that eventually became the statute at issue. Based on this question, the Justice Department issued multiple subpoenas to non-party private organizations that may have “had some involvement in drafting the legislation.” One of these groups is the Eagle Forum of Alabama, which objects to the subpoena as being overly broad and intrusive, and thus chilling core First Amendment-protected activity, including the efforts of citizens to band together to petition their representatives.
Such third-party subpoenas, often drawn up at the behest of left-wing activists, have been increasingly served on center-right policy and advocacy organizations, ostensibly to harass and intimidate them to deter their advocacy, drain their resources, and glean insight into their inner workings, personnel, and communications.
The Manhattan Institute now joins 52 other organizations, plus a dozen federal and state legislators, on an amicus brief supporting Eagle Forum's motion to quash the document subpoena. There is a long history of state actors trying to intimidate their political opponents, so the court here should stop the weaponization of the civil-litigation process against organizations with whom the government disagrees.
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