LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas announced that it has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a state contractor whose contract was terminated because he emailed his state legislator to advocate against a bill to ban transgender youth from receiving health care.
According to a press release from the ACLU, Casey Copeland, a contract attorney for the state court system, emailed his state representative, District 80 State Rep. Charlie Fite, from his personal email account to express his opposition to House Bill 1570, which would bar transgender youth from receiving gender affirming care.
According to the ACLU, Copeland was notified that his contract with the state would be terminated less than two days later. The lawsuit asserts state officials violated Copeland’s constitutional rights to free speech and due process and asks the court to block the termination of his contract.
“The right to petition our government is one of the core freedoms enshrined by the First Amendment – yet our client was retaliated against and his contract was terminated for exercising this fundamental right,” Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director, said. “This is one of the most clear cut and disturbing cases of unconstitutional government retaliation I’ve seen in Arkansas.”
The ACLU says Copeland had previously corresponded as a constituent with his representative on other matters without generating any adverse reactions or controversy.
“As a citizen, I felt I had an obligation to tell my state representative about the harm this bill would have. I never imagined that it would cost me part of my livelihood,” Copeland said. “I decided to bring a lawsuit to ensure that my rights and the rights of others are not abridged for the simple act of speaking their mind on an important matter of public concern as citizens of this state.”