Yesterday I was interviewed by the local ABC affiliate about a story that has since gone national–the City’s decision to subpoena pastors for copies of any sermons discussing “homosexuality.”
Here are my quotes:
South Texas College of Law Professor Josh Blackman says the current wording of the subpoena is definitely problematic.
“If the subpoena is narrowed I think that would be much better, but to the extent they’re still asking about sermons, that may have First Amendment problems depending on how broad it is,” said Blackman.
Feldman says that when the city responds to the response of the subpoena, it will revise the wording and narrow the scope. Whether that will satisfy the critics remains to be seen. Woodfill says he didn’t feel like anything said from the pulpit should be part of the lawsuit.
Blackman says in his opinion, the additional controversy on this issue could have been avoided, if the attorneys working for the city were more precise.
“I think if the city had taken the care about why they’re going after these four or five preachers it would be much less blundersome. Now it seems the city didn’t even know what they’re requesting in the first place and dialing it back.”
Allow me to elaborate. The City is represented pro bono by Susman Godfrey, one of the top litigation firms. They know what they are do. It would have been legal malpractice for them to subpoena the pastors without the City’s permission. I think the Mayor and City Attorney are now parsing words, and saying they didn’t approve the precise language. While this may be technically true, it is a shallow defense. They no doubt agreed to subpoena non-parties, and wanted to find out whether any instructions were provided concerning the referendum process. It is unavoidable that this would include “sermons.” These subpoenas should be withdrawn, and if not, quashed, with attorneys fees.