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Obria Group v. Ferguson

Description:  Washington state’s attorney general conducted an unlawful and unconstitutional investigation into two faith-based, pro-life nonprofits’ privileged records and materials, singling out the organizations because of their life-affirming views.

A pregnant woman and her doctor
Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

WHO:  Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT:  Available for media interviews following hearing in Obria Group v. Ferguson

WHEN:  Immediately following hearing, which begins at 9:30 a.m. PST, Thursday, Feb. 29

WHERE:  U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, 1717 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Manager Bernadette Tasy at (480) 356-0324.

TACOMA, Wash. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys will be available for media interviews Thursday following federal district court oral arguments in Obria Group v. Ferguson. In the case, ADF attorneys represent two faith-based, pro-life nonprofits that are challenging Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson for singling them out because of their life-affirming views through an unconstitutional and unlawful investigation into their privileged records and materials.

Ferguson issued civil investigative demands that dictate, for a time period exceeding 13 years, that the Obria Group and Obria Medical Clinics PNW provide answers to questions and production of documents under the pretense of conducting a civil investigation into “possible” violations of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act. As ADF attorneys argue in their lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in November, Ferguson’s investigation does not appear to be based on a complaint or other substantive evidence of wrongdoing but is rather an exploratory probe into the lawful activities, constitutionally protected speech and associations, and nonpublic internal communications and records of two organizations that hold a view on a matter of public policy that Ferguson doesn’t favor.

“Washington’s attorney general is targeting and harassing Obria medical clinics for no reason other than their pro-life stance,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tim Garrison, who will be arguing on behalf of the groups. “The U.S. Constitution protects the Obria Group and Obria Medical Clinics PNW’s right to freely speak their beliefs, freely exercise their faith, freely associate with like-minded individuals and organizations, and continue to provide services in a caring and compassionate environment to women and men facing difficult pregnancy circumstances. We are urging the court to end Washington’s relentless harassment of pro-life organizations.”

“Our clients have already expended exorbitant time and financial resources trying to comply with the unreasonable demands made by Washington’s attorney general,” said ADF Senior Counsel Lincoln Wilson, who will also be arguing on behalf of the groups. “These overbroad, invasive, selective, and burdensome investigative demands violate the pro-life organizations’ rights protected by the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and must stop.”

The information and documentation demands are so expansive—and only limited in time by the arbitrary date of January 1, 2010—that they would illegitimately include massive amounts of information and confidential internal communications and documents that are unrelated to Ferguson’s stated purpose for the investigation. Moreover, the Obria Group and Obria Medical Clinics PNW appear to have been singled out as targets of the investigation, even though dozens of abortion facilities operating in Washington also obtain similar sensitive client information.

The Obria Group and Obria Medical Clinics PNW are Christian pro-life nonprofits that provide medical, educational, and other services to meet the physical, mental, spiritual, and social needs of pregnant women, mothers, and fathers in a manner consistent with their view that unborn life is valuable and deserving of care and protection.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Tim Garrison
ABOUT Lincoln Wilson

Lincoln Wilson serves as senior counsel on the Center for Life Team at Alliance Defending Freedom. Prior to joining ADF, Wilson served as chief of civil litigation and constitutional defense for the Idaho attorney general. Before entering government service, Wilson worked in private practice for several New York law firms, including Skadden Arps, Quinn Emanuel, and Dechert LLP, where he served as counsel. Wilson’s private practice focused on complex class action and products liability litigation in trial and appellate courts around the country. He also maintained an active pro bono practice focusing on religious freedom matters, including a petition for certiorari named a “Petition of the Week” by SCOTUSblog. Wilson earned his J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law, where he earned the Academic Excellence Award and served as executive editor of the Law Review. He also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Idaho College of Law teaching appellate advocacy and complex litigation. He is admitted to practice in Idaho, Washington, and New York, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court and nine federal courts of appeal.