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Federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Monday that the American Civil Liberties Union and Equality California must turn over campaign documents, including internal e-mails and memos regarding efforts to overturn Prop 8, even though the groups are not parties to the legal challenge brought by Ted Olson and David Boies seeking to strike down the discriminatory ordinance.
In announcing its attention to appeal the decision, the ACLU issued the following statement by ACLU of Northern California staff attorney Elizabeth Gill:
“People must have a right to organize to make change. That right often requires bringing together diverse groups to work together in coalition to fight for or against a particular issue. Yet it is precisely this kind of coalition work that is most jeopardized by Judge Walker’s order, which strips coalition partners of their constitutional protections to organize. Under Judge Walker’s ruling, all efforts to advance equality and protect civil rights and liberties are in jeopardy. This would include the ACLU work with coalition partners like the California Catholic Conference, the Council of Churches, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the California Family Health Council and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on issues ranging from death penalty reform and reproductive justice to immigrants’ rights and the San Francisco Police Department’s tow and impoundment policy.
“As we’ve seen by the passage of Prop 8, which stripped same sex couples of their constitutional right to marry, LGBT people and their supporters are especially vulnerable in the initiative process. We need to be able to plan and strategize without being afraid that our emails and other communications will someday have to be turned over to our opponents. These confidential communications inform all of our work in support of LGBT equality, and being forced to hand these documents over to our opponents would adversely affect our work throughout the country.
“It might make sense to force people to turn over emails to prove a violation of the constitution. But no one is claiming--or could claim--that what the No on 8 committees said or did violated the constitution. “We believe the court is wrong on the law and intend to appeal the matter to the federal appeals court.”