Casey Copeland, the state contractor who was fired after emailing Rep. Charlene Fite (R-Alma) to criticize her vote to deny gender-affirming care to transgender youth, has had his state contract reinstated permanently.
After working as an attorney for the state on dependency-neglect cases since 2012, Copeland said he was fired on April 1 after emailing Fite on March 30 to criticize her uniquely cruel bill stripping gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Fite tattled about the email to Copeland’s bosses, and Copeland was promptly dismissed.
An August preliminary injunction barring state officials from terminating Copeland’s contract was made permanent by a federal district court on October 19.
From an updated press release from the ACLU:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and cooperating attorneys Bettina E. Brownstein and Johnathan D. Horton filed a lawsuit on behalf of Copeland in June. It asserts state officials violated Copeland’s constitutional rights to free speech and due process.
“State legislators may not like hearing from constituents who are unhappy with their actions, but they can’t use the power of the state to retaliate against people because they disagree with them on a certain issue,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director.
“I’m relieved the court reinstated my contract so I can get back to work protecting the rights, well-being, and opportunities of Arkansas foster children,” said Casey Copeland. “A citizen’s right to political speech is essential to our democracy and no one should be afraid of speaking their mind to their elected representative on issues that impact their friends, family, and state.”