Perry Picks His Favorite Kind of Bigotry »« Fischer’s Latest Constitutional Nonsense

Liberty Counsel Wants Names of Plaintiffs

In the ACLU’s suit against the Giles County, VA schools over a Ten Commandments display, the identity of the plaintiffs was withheld and stated only as John Doe, a common practice in such cases. But Liberty Counsel is demanding that the names of the students and their parents be known.

In court papers filed Tuesday, the School Board objected to a request by the student and one of his or her parents seeking anonymity in the emotionally charged case.

“The people have a right to know who is using their courts,” lawyers for Liberty Counsel, which represents the School Board, wrote in the brief.

“Consequently, the use of fictitious names is disfavored and should not be granted automatically.”

But there is a reason for such anonymity. I don’t know of a single significant church/state case that has not resulted in harassment, bullying, vandalism and even death threats and violence against the plaintiffs. Not one. And this goes all the way back to even before Ellery Schempp, whose family home was vandalized in the late 50s. Tammy Kitzmiller received death threats aimed at her daughter in the Dover case. Joann Bell had her own obituary sent to her in the mail, then someone tried to make it real by firebombing her family’s home.

The request cites comments and emails mostly directed at the two legal groups.

“Keep up the good work, you’ll have a special place in hell,” one email says. Another suggests that non-Christians leave the county “before things get ugly over there.”

Taken as a whole, the comments show a communitywide animus from which the plaintiffs should be protected, the ACLU contends.

Such comments are hearsay, Liberty Counsel countered, and do not show that the plaintiffs themselves have been threatened with physical or mental harm.

“Plaintiffs are asking this court to ignore its judicial duty and to permit them to proceed anonymously based upon nothing more than speculation and inadmissible hearsay,” the School Board maintained in court papers.

Absolute nonsense. There is more than enough history here to compel the court to approve this request. I think Liberty Counsel knows that the kind of harassment and violence a plaintiff always faces in these situations is a good way of getting them to drop the case. There is no legal reason why it’s necessary to reveal their identities; their legal arguments are going to be exactly the same whether they are anonymous or not. This is all about intimidating the plaintiffs so they drop the suit.

It’s the Tonya Harding strategy — if you can’t beat them in court, injure them on the way to the courthouse.

Comments

  1. says

    I have a sneaking suspicion that without anonymity to protect plaintiffs from harassment, a lot of religious institutions would try to torture them to get them to reveal the other witches at the coven meeting who signed the Devil’s book. After they identified their Communist co-conspirators and ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

  2. fastlane says

    Such comments are hearsay, Liberty Counsel countered, and do not show that the plaintiffs themselves have been threatened with physical or mental harm.

    So be plaintiffs are anonymous, so they weren’t personally threatened, because they were anonymous…. Ow..I think y brain just imploded.

    This follows the previous strategy of saying that the young woman who wanted a prayer taken down couldn’t really have been bothered by it, because she was public with her name, and didn’t seem afraid of persecution.

    They really don’t even try to keep a consistent narrative, do they?

  3. The Christian Cynic says

    Such comments are hearsay, Liberty Counsel countered, and do not show that the plaintiffs themselves have been threatened with physical or mental harm.

    Rewrite: “We won’t know if the plaintiffs will receive threats until we out them and they get threats.”

  4. timberwoof says

    The proponents of Proposition 8 cited the potential of threats against their witnesses as justification for not publishing the videos made of the trial. Someone is projecting.

    I hope there is at least one brave threat-magnet who will [i]publish[/i] all the threats.

    It would be interesting to visit local priests and ask them to tell their sheep not to do shit like that … and then, undercover, visit their services to see what they say.

  5. MikeMa says

    Liberty should be forced to post a bond to cover all expenses related to the inevitable harassment. If they are so sure no problems will result, a few million up front should be easy. Included should be 24 hour guards for people and property (to extend well beyond trial), medical expenses (if needed), property repair (if needed) and moving expenses (if desired after the trial).

    Legal bullying to keep others from standing up for the constitution. Liberty Bullshit Counsel.

  6. raven says

    Judge Jones, who decided the creationism Kitzmiller versus Dover court case, got a lot of death threats.

    He was under the protection of federal marshalls for a while.

    Fundies toss off death threats like normal people say “hello”.

    Death threats aren’t even the most annoying. Sometimes they vandalize your cars or house and if a fundie is your boss, you end up fired.

  7. barry21 says

    Hearsay is (roughly speaking) “an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted” in that statement.

    Imagine one of the threatening letters said, “I am going to stab you in the eyeballs because you don’t believe in Jeezo.” It would be hearsay to put that on the record to prove that someone wanted to stab my eyeballs.

    It would NOT be hearsay to put it on the record to show why I am afraid of being attacked.

    Swing and a miss, Liberty Counsel. Maybe it’s time to audit Evidence at the nearest law school.

  8. rbh3 says

    In the Freshwater case in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, the harassment of the complaining family’s children after their identity was revealed was sufficient to induce them to move to another county. Their identity was revealed at the instigation of the creationist defendant in the administrative hearing when the referee (not a judge) declined to protect that identity even in the face of a federal court having ordered their anonymity to be maintained.

  9. Abby Normal says

    I was under the impression that the right to face one’s accuser applied to criminal trials, not civil suits.

  10. says

    Death threats aren’t even the most annoying. Sometimes they vandalize your cars or house and if a fundie is your boss, you end up fired.

    Slagging off death threats as less annoying than having your house vandalized means that you know that the threats aren’t real. That’s an interesting Catch-22, isn’t it?

  11. slc1 says

    Re barry21 @ #9

    Imagine one of the threatening letters said, “I am going to stab you in the eyeballs because you don’t believe in Jeezo.” It would be hearsay to put that on the record to prove that someone wanted to stab my eyeballs.

    If, in fact, somebody did stab Mr. barry21 in the eyeball after sending such a letter, it would be admissible in court against that individual as it is considered to be an admission against interest. On the other hand, if that individual, after the fact sent a letter denying that he/she did do the deed, that letter would not be admissible in court as it would be considered self-serving. Ain’t the law wonderful!

  12. barry21 says

    slc1 @ #14

    And don’t even get started on the fundie stashing the ice pick in her briefcase; it’s off limits without a warrant. Until she puts it in her car, that is.

    Somehow by passing the car’s threshold, it magically becomes searchable without a warrant.

    And these examples don’t even scratch the surface of why law school is the unhappiest place on earth.

    Fuck. I have wasted my life.

  13. Michael Heath says

    Ed reports:

    Liberty Counsel is demanding that the names of the students and their parents be known.

    My immediate and continued reaction is my considering whether Liberty Counsel is a hate group. We already know they hate, that’s been true since their creation; but this is clearly an organization who now seeks to purposefully threaten Americans who seek the defense of their rights from the courts from ever getting that day. Chilling shit. How far will conservative Christianity descend into hate, delusion, and idiocy? It seems to me they’re getting continually worse at increasing rates.

  14. raven says

    Slagging off death threats as less annoying than having your house vandalized means that you know that the threats aren’t real.

    The threats are very real. You just never know if they will be carried out. You just guess.

    The real catch 22.

    The only death threats that are precursors to a murder are the ones where you end up dead. But if you are dead, you won’t know that the threats were serious.

    Death threats are felonies. Ones that the feds will often arrest and prosecute especially since Jared Loughner and a few other killers went off the rails. Two morons found that out the hard way when they were arrested and charged with felonies.

  15. raven says

    Panel: Suspend ex-AG Kline’s law license in Kansas – KansasCity.comw ww.kansascity.com/2011/…/panel-suspend-ex-kansas-ag-klines.htm…Cached

    5 days ago – Those included key criticisms of Kline and his subordinates over their … p> The recommended sanction from a three-member panel of the state … p>An attorney whose license is indefinitely suspended can file a petition to … p> Kline’s investigations of the late Dr. George Tiller, of Wichita, and a …

    Well justice still sometimes happens. Kline let xian terrorists run around loose in Kansas and refused to do anything about the death threats against George Tiller.

    Tiller was assassinated shortly afterwards. Kline just lost his law license, something that is very hard to do because it involves lawyers judging lawyers.

    And oh yeah. Kline is a devout fundie xian and an enabler of xian terrorism as it turned out.

  16. raven says

    Chilling shit. How far will conservative Christianity descend into hate, delusion, and idiocy? It seems to me they’re getting continually worse at increasing rates.

    Why are you even asking. There is no bottom.

    Wait until they park a truck bomb outside a federal building and blow it up.

    Hmmm, oops. They already did that.

    Well, wait until they hijack an airliner and fly it into a skyscraper.

  17. fishnguy says

    They want to know the names so they can tell god, and he can punish them…I think that’s how these folk reason these things out.

  18. paul says

    End the Military’s Discrimination against Non-Religious Service Members

    One of the Military Relligious Freedom Foundation’s clients, a sergeant in the Army, has started a petition on WhiteHouse.gov to “End the Military’s Discrimination against Non-Religious Service Members.” According to WhiteHouse.gov, 5,000 signatures within 30 days is supposed to get you a response from the White House. The petition, started on October 1 by SGT Dustin Chalker, currently has 3,038 signatures, so it needs 1,962 more by October 31.

    https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions/%21/petition/end-military%E2%80%99s-discrimination-against-non-religious-service-members/jcfr6fWt

  19. says

    You guys have it all wrong. They just want the family’s name so they can share that good Christianist love.*

    * Funnily enough, indiscernible from bigoted-mob hatred and violence.

    O LORD, the God to whom vengeance belongs,
    O God of vengeance, let your glorious justice be seen!
    2Arise, O judge of the earth.
    Sentence the proud to the penalties they deserve.
    3How long, O LORD?
    How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat?
    4Hear their arrogance!
    How these evildoers boast!
    5They oppress your people, LORD,
    hurting those you love.
    6They kill widows and foreigners
    and murder orphans.
    7″The LORD isn’t looking,” they say,
    “and besides, the God of Israel doesn’t care.”
    8Think again, you fools!
    When will you finally catch on?
    9Is the one who made your ears deaf?
    Is the one who formed your eyes blind?
    10He punishes the nations–won’t he also punish you?
    He knows everything–doesn’t he also know what you are doing?
    11The LORD knows people’s thoughts,
    that they are worthless!
    12Happy are those whom you discipline, LORD,
    and those whom you teach from your law.
    13You give them relief from troubled times
    until a pit is dug for the wicked.

  20. says

    rationaljen-

    Ellery Schempp is one of the most astonishing people I know. At the age of 15, he stood up and protested against mandatory bible reading in school by reading a passage from the Quran. His family suffered a good deal for it, but he did the right thing. That’s courage I certainly could not have displayed at that age.

  21. abb3w says

    For the curious, applicable seeming Virginia State Code. The bit about “whether identification poses a risk of retaliatory physical or mental harm” seems relevant. Contrariwise, it’s in US District Court, so the state law may be irrelevant.

    I’m not a lawyer, so I’ve no idea whether the claim of hearsay is appropriate. However, I will note that email messages are relatively easy to forge so that the header information about origin and path can be misleading. Poking Google turns up a few posts at the FederalEvidence.com blog, which in turn references to US v. Safavian (435 F.Supp.2d 36) and US v. Siddiqui (235 F.3d 1318, 1322) suggesting to my layman eyes can be admissible under Federal rules and not hearsay; however, translating the legal jargon to a yes or no is well beyond me.

    That said, the general history in the US of such threats being made in association with church/state cases (Schempp, McCollum, and so on) might also be relevant.

Leave a Reply