A hearing is set at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court in Fayetteville on the question of the constitutionality of the state law aimed at preventing local ordinance protecting civil rights of gay people.

Fayetteville adopted such an ordinance, which the Supreme Court subsequently held was in conflict with the state law. But it didn’t address the constitutionality of that state law, which was aimed at protecting those who want to discriminate against gay people in employment, housing and public services.

The hearing tomorrow will cover both the plaintiffs’ effort to permanently enjoin enforcement of the ordinance and also motions by the city and others including the ACLU defending the ordinance to obtain information from legislative sponsors of the law, Sen. Bart Hester and Rep. Bob Ballinger.

Judge Doug Martin today ordered the plaintiffs, other than the state of Arkansas, to respond to the discovery request.  The Story Law Firm, which is representing the plaintiffs and whose employees include Ballinger, did not respond to the request for discovery. Citing that, Martin ordered production of the requested material in 30 days. Those defending the ordinance want Hester and Ballinger to give testimony in depositions and provide documents about the legislation. The state objected to this, calling it an invasion of their privacy. The ACLU responded at the time:

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“This dramatic overreaction and obstruction of the civil discovery process seeks to deny intervenors (and the court) crucial evidence in this case to support what the public record already suggests: that Act 137 was enacted in order to license statewide discrimination against the LGBT community.”