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THE DAILY SIGNAL: Congressmen, Conservative Groups Defend Eagle Forum From Justice Department’s ‘Chilling’ Subpoena

All six Republicans representing Alabama in the U.S. House signed on to a legal brief opposing the Justice Department’s broad subpoena of records from a small conservative group in their state, Eagle Forum of Alabama. 

The friend of the court brief, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, also includes six Alabama state legislators and more than 50 organizations, most of them conservative.

Among those groups: Judicial Watch, Citizens United, Concerned Women for America, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, the Foundation for Government Accountability, the Manhattan Institute, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The Daily Signal reported Sept. 12 that the Justice Department is seeking documents from Eagle Forum of Alabama going back five years as part of a lawsuit challenging an Alabama law that prohibits sex-change treatments for minors.

The GOP members of Alabama’s U.S. House delegation opposing the Justice Department’s action against Eagle Forum are Reps. Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks, Jerry Carl, Barry Moore, Gary Palmer, and Mike Rogers. (Rep. Terri Sewell, Alabama’s seventh representative, is a Democrat.)

The six House Republicans from Alabama also sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday, asking him to explain the Justice Department’s constitutional authority for pursuing documents from Eagle Forum and to show that the agency is not acting in an arbitrary, political manner.

“Eagle Forum of Alabama is an outstanding organization that represents the values of thousands of Alabamians. To have their First Amendment rights infringed upon by the Department of Justice is disrespectful to our Constitution,” Palmer, chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, said in a prepared statement, adding:

"Constitutional protections should not be dictated by the political views of individuals in the White House or their appointee. Attorney General Merrick Garland owes an explanation for the motives behind this aggressive action against an organization simply petitioning the government on an issue important to them."

Earlier this year, the Biden Justice Department sued the state of Alabama over the law against sex-change surgery and other medical treatment for minors. In August, the department subpoenaed documents from Eagle Forum of Alabama—which isn’t a party to the court case—regarding its interactions with lawmakers and other advocacy.

Individuals who signed on to the court brief include Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department attorney who is a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, parent organization of The Daily Signal.

“This is an outrageous attempt by the Justice Department to try to intimidate citizens engaging in everyday, routine activity on issues important to them,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal. “The reason the Justice Department is doing this is because this is a particular view they want to silence.”

The friend of the court brief calls the Justice Department subpoena of Eagle Forum a “transparent and flagrant violation of the First Amendment.”

The friend of the court, or amici curiae, brief reads in part:

"Amici comprise a wide range of organizations and individuals, from nonprofit policy groups, to federal and state legislators, to individual citizens. Their interests and goals vary. But all agree that the United States’ subpoena in this case is a transparent use of the civil litigation process to chill the speech and political organizing of those who hold views contrary to those of the United States and the Department of Justice.

The subpoena harms not just members of the public across all ideological and political spectra, who will be inhibited from open discourse and petitioning, but also legislators themselves, who benefit from hearing from their constituents without those citizens fearing subsequent federal investigations seeking reams of protected materials."

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s inquiries for this report.

“The department is full of radical bureaucrats and has even been sanctioned by federal courts for colluding with leftist groups,” J. Christian Adams, president of Public Interest Legal Foundation, said in a public statement. “In America, the government cannot target groups who oppose their political beliefs and that is exactly what the DOJ has done here.”

A weaponized Justice Department is targeting political enemies of the Biden administration, said Tarren Bragdon, president of the Foundation for Government Accountability.

“The Biden administration has launched an intimidation campaign against a small nonprofit group that has only one full-time employee,” Bragdon said in a public statement defending Eagle Forum of Alabama. “This is an effort to force the organization to exhaust its limited resources defending itself against the full force of the federal government.”


  
    
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