Democracy Forward filed suit against the Trump Administration after it refused to disclose records relating to Solicitor General Noel Francisco’s potential ties to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ADF is an “Anti-LGBT Hate Group” that has been involved in a wide range of actions against the LGBT community over the last decade, including fighting for states to roll back non-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people, fighting against marriage equality, and even defending the sterilization of transgender people. The organization has described its mission as “equipping attorneys to battle the homosexual agenda.”
Francisco argued a case before the Supreme Court while standing “shoulder to shoulder” with an ADF lawyer in support of their arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, also known as the “wedding cake case.” While in private practice as a partner at Jones Day, he used the law firm’s resources to support ADF’s work. As a partner at the firm, he participated in an ADF-affiliated panel on law-firm recruiting, and even co-counseled a case in 2016 with the conservative group. In 2016, ADF press releases about the case celebrated Francisco as a “private attorney allied with ADF,” though they have since claimed that description was a mistake.
The Solicitor General of the United States is the fourth-ranking official in the Department of Justice. To date, the Trump Administration has refused to disclose the full scope and specific nature of the Solicitor General’s relationship with ADF.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.