Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Courts Drawn Into Dispute Over Recall Petitions Circulated By Churches

Earlier this month, an El Paso, Texas church and its pastor filed a federal lawsuit challenging on 1st and 14th Amendment grounds the city's enforcement against churches of a provision of the Texas Election Code that bans corporations from circulating petitions to call an election. (TX Election Code Sec. 253.094). The complaint (full text) in Hoyt v. City of El Paso, Texas, (WD TX, filed 11/17/2011), was filed after the city invoked the state law provision to attempt to stop churches from circulating recall petitions aimed at the city's mayor and two city council members for their votes to restore health benefits to same-sex and unmarried domestic partners of city employees. (See prior posting.) Alliance Defense Fund announced the filing of the lawsuit. Meanwhile, according to KTSM News and an ADF release, Monday in a state court lawsuit brought by the mayor against Tom Brown Ministries, Word of Life Church of El Paso, El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values, and other local residents, the judge refused to issue a preliminary injunction to stop the recall election. The mayor argued that signatures collected in churches on the recall petitions were invalid.