LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Attorneys for the state of Arkansas want a court to cancel subpoenas issued in the battle over a gay rights ordinance in Fayetteville, saying they’re too broad and would “eviscerate” privacy rights granted to legislators and the governor.
The state Supreme Court struck down Fayetteville’s anti-discrimination ordinance in February, saying it violates state law, but justices didn’t rule on whether law is constitutional because that question wasn’t addressed in the lower court.
In the renewed battle over Fayetteville’s ordinance, groups representing the LGBT community have asked that the state and bill sponsors Sen. Bart Hester and Rep. Bob Ballinger produce everything they have regarding a state law that prevents communities from extending protections not mentioned elsewhere in the state code.
Lawyers for the state said Monday the request is an “unparalleled examination” and that the request would require Arkansas to examine millions of pages from 74,000 state employees.
They said that letting the requests go through “would substantially alter Arkansas’ carefully crafted system of separation of powers, eviscerate executive privilege, and effectively sweep away the ancient and venerable principle of legislative privilege embodied in the Arkansas constitution.”
In court proceedings, opposing sides share documents in a process known as discovery. Lawyers for the state say they asked that the lawyers for the groups representing the LGBT community to narrow their request for documents but were turned down. Court records show that the group believes its requests are not too broad.
“We are not asking that the state search all agencies and employees,” they wrote. “In recognition of the fact that the state will know far better than us where responsive documents are reasonably likely to be located, we ask that the state propose a list of the governmental agencies where responsive documents are likely to exist.”
They wrote to the state in June saying that, when it didn’t receive a list from the state, it narrowed its request to 17 executive or legislative departments and offices, along with the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.