State contractor fired after writing legislator about trans-related legislation

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – A new lawsuit claims a contract attorney was fired for writing lawmakers about trans-related legislation.

The ACLU of Arkansas is filing the suit, claiming this violates the man’s constitutional rights.

The SAFE Act- which bans gender affirming treatment for transgender youth- has been in the middle of controversy since it was passed earlier this legislative session. Now, it is at the center of yet another lawsuit by the ACLU.

Holly Dickson is the Executive Director for ACLU of Arkansas. She said the lawsuit all began when Casey Copeland, a contract attorney for the state court system, emailed his state representative, Charlene Fite (R- District 80) about the SAFE Act.

“Mr. Copeland had served as an attorney on behalf of children for almost a decade,” Dickson said. “Working with the administrative office of the courts, he had received no complaints about his performance, in fact they had increased responsibilities in December of last year.”

But, Dickson said that all changed after an email to Fite in March.

“He emailed his state representative complaining about her sponsorship of a bill, then two days later the state Administrative Office of the Courts cancelled his contract.”

In the email, Copeland said the bill puts lives in danger and illustrates arrogance of lawmakers and the Republican Party to dictate personal matters.

Email from Casey Copeland to State Rep. Charlene Fite (R- District 80)

“The public is entitled to free speech and to criticize their lawmakers and their proposals without fear of reprisal or retaliation by the government,” Dickson said. “Our lawsuit indicates this is exactly what happened to him.”

The lawsuit said Fite forwarded the email from Copeland to the Administrative Office of the Courts. KNWA/FOX24 reached out to Fite for comment. She declined to interview but said she did not file any complaints or request action against Copeland, she simply forwarded the email.

“The Administrative Office of the Courts contract did not prohibit him from speaking to his legislator nor could it have,” Dickson said. “There’s no allegation that he violated his contract in any way, shape or form.”

Dickson said Copeland asked for an exit interview after he was fired to find out why exactly his contract was ending but he was denied. KNWA/FOX24 also reached out to the state Administrative Office of the Courts for comment and did not hear back.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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