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A federal judge has scolded Joe Biden’s Department of Justice for its “burdensome” badgering of a conservative organization.
The revelations come in a commentary at the Daily Signal by Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation.
He explained that the DOJ had subpoenaed the Alabama chapter of the conservative group Eagle Forum.
He reported the “outrageous” demand, however, was met with an immediately pushback from “dozens” of conservative groups supporting the Eagle Forum’s request to throw it out.
So the DOJ “caved and narrowed their request – as the judge in the case put it – to ‘1%’ of what they were demanding before,” he explained.
It gets better.
“At a hearing on Oct. 14 on the motion, according to a transcript we have obtained, federal Judge Liles C. Burke castigated the Justice Department for its ‘vastly overbroad and unduly burdensome’ subpoena and declared that he ‘would have issued an order to quash’ the subpoena if the Justice Department had not withdrawn almost all of it. And Burke hinted that he would be open to considering sanctions against the Justice Department,” von Spakovsky explained.
The background is that all the usual left-wingers sued Alabama over its “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act” that bans puberty-blocking chemicals and body-mutilating surgery on minors.
The Eagle Forum wasn’t even a defendant; it just spoke out in support of the law, he said.
“But because of their advocacy, they were targeted by the Justice Department with a massive, capacious subpoena that sought everything the Eagle Forum and its volunteers have done or said for the last five years on this issue. It was clearly an attempt to intimidate the organization, deter its activism, and perhaps punish them for exercising their First Amendment rights on a policy issue the Biden administration disagreed with,” von Spakovsky said.
The DOJ’s requests had no relevance, since the Eagle Forum members are not the lawmakers who adopted the law, and their statements have no influence over its constitutionality.
Burke, in fact, openly wondered, “how in the world could what the Department of Justice is asking for possibly be relevant to this case and its outcome.”
The explanation turned uplifting for conservatives, with von Spakovksy writing:
The judge asked Justice Department lawyer Jason Cheek why the department had suddenly gone from “asking for [an] ‘everything we can think of subpoena’ down to [a] ‘we just really actually one need one thing’” subpoena just before the hearing. The only answer the lawyer was able to squeak out was the “amicus briefs filed by numerous organizations” and his complaint that the Eagle Forum did not first have a “conversation” with the department to negotiate a narrowing of the scope of the subpoena. He repeatedly complained that “this thing has grown some legs” after so many groups filed briefs opposing his subpoena.
Further, a lawyer for Eagle Forum pointed out that federal case law requires the DOJ to “take reasonable steps to avoid imposing undue burden and expense on the recipient of the subpoena, and authorizes sanctions on a party or attorney who fails to comply.”
Burke then warned the DOJ: “Administrations change every four years, or at least every eight. Is the new standard going to be that these kind of subpoenas go out in legislation to any advocacy organization, and they want emails to their members, they want social media posts, they want things that the group just considered in their advocacy? … Is that where you think the Department of Justice thinks we need to go in this country? Because I promise you this, at some point this will be aimed at the Southern Poverty Law [Center] and the ACLU, and their efforts, as well. Is this where we need to go?”
When the subpoena appeared, WND reported that J. Christian Adams, the chief of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, charged Biden’s DOJ was using the subpoena as “a classic move … to intimidate a conservative group.”
He said, “The Department is full of radical bureaucrats and has even been sanctioned by federal courts for colluding with leftist groups. In America, the government cannot target groups who oppose their political beliefs and that is exactly what the DOJ has done here.”
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