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Joel Oster at Townhall: In El Paso, Texas, Democrat Mayor John Cook is literally doing whatever he can to cram his political preferences down the throats of El Pasoans who voted against him.
“Churches and ministries shouldn’t live in fear of being punished by the government for engaging in free speech protected by the First Amendment. The substance of our argument in that regard is alive and well at the Texas Supreme Court. All the high court decided was that it would not put a hold on the ruling from the Texas Court of Appeals. It has not yet ruled on the substance of our case or on our motion for an expedited appeal.”
Appeal Filed to Defend Texans’ Right to Speak About Recall Election | James Madison Ctr for Free Speech
Attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund, The James Madison Center for Free Speech and other have filed an Appeal in the Texas Supreme Court, seeking to protect the First Amendment rights of Texans to speak about a recall election.
One News Now: “We have more than 250 signed affidavits from local citizens there in El Paso who are terrified that they may go to jail simply for engaging in legitimate political and free-speech efforts,” Oster reports. “The mayor can’t be allowed to put his opponents in jail just because he doesn’t like [that] they participated in a valid effort he doesn’t favor.”
Opposing Views by FRC: According to Attorney Joel Oster, ADF has “more than 250 signed affidavits from local citizens who are terrified that they may go to jail for their legitimate political and free speech efforts.”"This is America,” Oster said, “and the mayor can’t be allowed to put his opponents in jail just because he doesn’t like the fact that they participated in a valid effort that he doesn’t favor.”
WorldNetDaily (includes video): “El Paso citizens should not live in fear of being arrested and jailed for exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster, who argued before the appeals court on Jan. 24 in Cook v. Tom Brown Ministries. “We have more than 250 signed affidavits from local citizens who are terrified that they may go to jail for their legitimate political and free speech efforts. This is America, and the mayor can’t be allowed to put his opponents in jail just because he doesn’t like the fact that they participated in a valid effort that he doesn’t favor,” said Oster.
FRC Washington Update: According to Attorney Joel Oster, ADF has “more than 250 signed affidavits from local citizens who are terrified that they may go to jail for their legitimate political and free speech efforts.” “This is America,” Oster said, “and the mayor can’t be allowed to put his opponents in jail just because he doesn’t like the fact that they participated in a valid effort that he doesn’t favor.”
One News Now: “The appeals court in Texas has stopped the recall election because one of the supporters of the recall election was supposedly a church, and according to the Texas appeals court, a church cannot be involved in a recall election,” reports Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney Joel Oster
Bloomberg: This is a blatant matter of abusing the rights of church officials to be involved in local affairs,” said Joel Oster, a lawyer in Kansas for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based group that represents religious organizations. “We are excited about this case because of the precedent that could be established.”
OneNewsNow.com: Alliance Defense Fund attorney Joel Oster was back in court this week to take on the cited law. “The appeals court in Texas heard our case about whether or not a church can speak out on local political matters. The case went really well,” he accounts. “The argument was well presented, and the court, I believe, understands that even a church has free-speech rights and has a right to petition their government for the redress of grievances.”
Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster will be available for media interviews following a hearing Tuesday in which he will argue that a Texas appeals court should not grant El Paso Mayor John Cook’s request to stop a recall election against him and two city council members.
KIVA.com ABC 7: Brown’s lawyers said there’s a more practical explanation. “It was late in the day (when we got the subpoena), and it said that we had to produce all of these documents the very next morning. This is like an 18-paragraph request for documents. There was not enough time to file all of these documents, so we filed a motion for a protective order. Under Texas law, when you file a protective order, you don’t have to produce the documents unless the court says you have to produce the documents. Once the court said to produce the documents, we produced the documents. Where’s the controversy?” said Brown’s Alliance Defense Fund lawyer, Joel Oster.
El Paso Times: Brown’s attorney, Joel Oster, said the document released by Walker on Monday is unimportant, calling it “a non-issue.” . . . But Oster, one of Brown’s attorneys, downplayed the document’s significance. “The minutes that you refer to are a non-issue,” Oster said in an email. “They were properly given to the other side pursuant to the subpoena and the court’s instructions. They don’t state that the church itself was involved. “In any event, the court already stated that it believes that the church circulated the petitions. … What the court held, however, was that First Amendment rights were at stake and it would not stop the election.”
NC Register: The Alliance Defense Fund and two local pro-bono attorneys are aiding petitioners. “We’re defending the church’s right to be fully engaged in the culture,” said ADF senior legal counsel Joel Oster. “Christians and their institutions are not second-class citizens who are banned from the democratic process.”
ADF attorney Joel Oster appeared on the “Pratt on Texas” show to discuss the situation. | MP3 audio 14:14 mins
OneNewsNow.com: Mayor Cook challenged the recall effort, arguing that Brown violated state election law by using church resources to collect signatures for the recall petition. The Alliance Defense Fund is challenging the constitutionality of that law in federal court.
Mayor John Cook and City Council recall: Residents plead fifth when asked about church ties at hearing
El Paso Times: Joel Oster, a lawyer for Brown and the recall group, said even if churches and their officers helped gather petitions, they didn’t violate state law. He also said that if they did, that law is unconstitutional after a Supreme Court ruling last year that says the government can’t limit some kinds of corporate political activities. [more]
Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster will be available for media interviews following a hearing Monday that concerns El Paso Mayor John Cook’s attempt to stop a recall election against him and two city council members.
El Paso Times: But the lawyer, Joel Oster, said that did not mean the group violated Texas election law. And even if they did, the law is unconstitutional, he said . . . “We will concede,” said Oster, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, a national group dedicated to helping churches challenge legal limits to their political activity. “We admit that they had established in their petition clear and convincing evidence” of churches’ participation.
KVIA El Paso: Brown has maintained he did not break the law. Joel Oster, Brown’s newest attorney from the Alliance Defense Fund, argues that the Supreme Court decided that it is perfectly legal for the recall group to mount their campaign against Cook and the two city representatives because it falls under freedom of speech, even if that campaign was carried out through churches like Brown’s ministry. Brown’s attorneys also contend the election code itself is unconstitutional and should not be enforced.
KFOX El Paso: Oster said, “A pastor should not have to vet his sermons by Uncle Sam. When a pastor preaches his sermons he does not have to get approval from the government for what he says.”
OneNewsNow.com: Joel Oster, an attorney with ADF, tells OneNewsNow the mayor wants Brown jailed. “And in this particular case the state law says that the church cannot circulate a petition for the recall of a candidate, and if a church speaks out against an elected official in that way they are subjected to criminal punishment,” explains the attorney. “It almost makes you wonder if we’re in Communist China and not the United States of America.”
KTSM News Channel 9 (includes video): The law firm is called the Alliance Defense Fund. It’s a private organization that provides free legal service for people when they feel their first amendment right has been violated. Attorney Joel Oster based in Kansas City, MO will provide free legal counsel for Brown.
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a counterclaim Friday against the mayor of El Paso, Texas in a lawsuit the mayor initiated against Tom Brown Ministries, the Word of Life Church of El Paso, El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values, and other local citizens