Little Rock, AR—Today, American Atheists celebrated the latest legal victory in its free-speech lawsuit against Christian nationalist Jason Rapert, an Arkansas state senator and failed lieutenant governor candidate.
On Tuesday, July 26, United States District Judge Kristine G. Baker ruled in favor of American Atheists, ordering Rapert to finally turn over a trove of documents. She criticized his reasoning for refusing to do so as “repetitive boilerplate objections” and gave him until August 5 to produce the records American Atheists requested.
American Atheists’ lawsuit, which was filed in 2018, accuses Rapert of discriminating against atheists and violating their free speech when he blocked them from his official Facebook and Twitter accounts. As part of her order, Judge Baker is forcing Rapert to turn over his social media data.
“Judge Baker saw through Rapert’s desperate attempts to avoid accountability and sided with us on every issue we raised,” said Geoffrey T. Blackwell, Legal Counsel for American Atheists. “It’s outrageous that he wasted the court’s time—and our own—to try to deny us access to basic documents. If his decision to censor our clients wasn’t illegal and discriminatory, he should have nothing to hide.”
In 2018, Jason Rapert called American Atheists’ lawsuit against him “frivolous.” However, in a 2019 ruling, Judge Baker wrote that American Atheists had a “fair chance of prevailing” in this litigation. In Tuesday’s decision, Judge Baker set the week of October 3, 2022, for the trial date.
“Jason Rapert’s attempts to delay and obstruct didn’t work, and now we’re heading toward trial,” said Blackwell. “Rapert and other government officials should take note: actions have consequences, and there are risks to violating constituents’ civil rights. No one is above the law—certainly not a would-be theocrat who can’t handle criticism.”