'DOJ Will Come After You' If It Disagrees With Your Position, Says Subpoenaed Nonprofit

'DOJ Will Come After You' If It Disagrees With Your Position, Says Subpoenaed Nonprofit
The Department of Justice (DOJ) logo is pictured on a wall in New York on Dec. 5, 2013. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
Steve Lance
Naveen Athrappully

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a subpoena to Alabama-based conservative non-profit Eagle Forum for exercising its constitutionally protected free speech rights in a case involving transgender treatments for children.

Eagle Forum had lobbied the Alabama legislature to pass a law that blocks children from treatments that alter their gender. Earlier this year, the legislature passed the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, which bans hormone therapies, puberty blockers, and surgeries aimed at changing the biological sex of a minor. Left-wing organizations sued the state and the DOJ intervened in the lawsuit claiming that the new law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The DOJ then issued a subpoena to Eagle Forum, which is not even a party in the lawsuit. The subpoena is asking for five years of records of Eagle Forum on anything having to do with the issue of gender dysphoria.

In an interview on NTD’s "Capitol Report," Kris Ullman, president of Eagle Forum, said that the DOJ is coming after them because of their differing opinion on the issue of gender-altering treatments for kids. The department wants to “make an example” out of the small nonprofit, she stated.

Ullman points out that the issue of puberty blockers “is not really key” to the case. The issue at heart is that the DOJ is attempting to “harass” a nonprofit group into silence because the federal government “does not like their stance” on a specific issue.

“Whether you're on the right or the left, you should be concerned that the DOJ will come after you if they disagree with your free speech rights, the position you've taken. The right to petition, the right to free speech, the right to assembly—all these rights are at issue in the case.”

Pressuring Nonprofits

Eagle Forum has filed a motion to quash the DOJ subpoena. According to Ullman, a hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 14 when a judge will decide whether or not to throw out the subpoena.

If the judge decides that the subpoena is valid, Eagle Forum will either have to hand over five years of documents or face contempt of court.

Ullman points out the chilling effect this has already had on other nonprofit groups that now fear getting involved in contentious issues due to the risk of being subpoenaed. And if all necessary documents are not turned over, the government can “hit you with criminal contempt.”

“We're urging everyone and we have over 60 groups that have spoken out in favor of our petition to quash the subpoena. Please speak up and say the DOJ does not have this right to harass nonprofit groups in this manner.”

In an interview with Mobile radio's FM Talk 106.5, Republican state Sen. Chris Elliott criticized Biden’s DOJ for issuing the subpoena to Eagle Forum and insisted that the nonprofit refuse to comply with it.

“It's important, I think, for the Department of Justice to realize, and the entire federal government—their power and authority is derived from the consent of the governed. And if they continue to act in the way that they are, I think you're going to see a whole lot less consent,” he said.

Steve Lance is the host of Capitol Report, a political news show based in Washington aimed at providing a direct channel to the voices and people who shape policy in America. Capitol Report features all of the political news of the day with expert interviews and analysis.