The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking information related to the Eagle Forum of Alabama’s promotion of a bill signed into law earlier this year that banned sex-altering surgeries from being performed on minors.
The Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion And Protection Act (VCAP) passed both chambers of the legislature during the final day of the 2022 regular session. Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill into law in April.
The DOJ subpoenaed Eagle Forum of Alabama, which is the state’s largest conservative grassroots advocacy organization, on Aug. 9 demanding all information related to the organization’s legislative activities promoting the bill since 2017, according to the nonprofit.
In a Wednesday news release, Eagle Forum of Alabama announced that it had filed a motion seeking to stave off the DOJ’s efforts to gain information on the organization’s involvement in the legislation’s passage.
National Eagle Forum president Kristen A. Ullman sounded the alarm on the potential implications of the DOJ’s “weaponize[d]” subpoena.
“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 Ullman. “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,” she continued. “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.”
Eagle Forum executive director Becky Gerritson, who garnered national media attention in 2013 over her impassioned congressional testimony regarding the IRS targeting her Tea Party group, declared that the right for private citizens to engage in political activity “must be preserved.”
“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 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 was challenged in U.S. District Court on April 19 by plaintiffs who alleged that the law was unconstitutional. Eagle Forum of Alabama is not involved in the current lawsuit.
In its release, the organization proclaimed that the DOJ’s subpoena “is broad, intrusive, and meant to harass.”
According to the organization, the DOJ is seeking all private communications with lawmakers or anyone else regarding VCAP, as well as notes, meeting minutes, promotional materials, strategy efforts, speeches, presentation materials, research, polling, among other information.
Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL