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Latest devilish effort to force Michelle Wu to listen and answer to Satanists in Salem quashed by federal judge

A federal judge who ruled in April that Mayor Wu doesn't have to travel to Salem to take questions from a Satanic lawyer ruled again today that Wu still doesn't have to go to Salem to take questions from the lawyer - let alone after first being forced to sit through a Satanic ceremony.

The Satanic Temple sued the Boston City Council last year for the way councilors have refused to ask any of its members to give one of the invocations that start the council's Wednesday meetings, which the group says violates the First Amendment ban on government recognition of particular religions.

The group initially tried to make Wu trek up to Salem for a potentially hours-long deposition on Election Day. US District Court Judge Angel Kelley, however, said, first temporarily and then permanently, that other city officials could answer the Satanic Temple's deposition questions about council invocation procedures and that it should stop its obvious attempts to harass Wu.

Then, in e-mail to a city attorney and in court filings in recent weeks, Satanic Temple attorney Matt Kezhaya said Wu had to show up for questioning - ultimately setting a date next week - or he would seek an order to have her arrested, because Kelley's April ruling didn't say what the city, or Kelley herself, said it did and that he still had the right to seek answers from Wu. He added that before the formal questioning began, Wu would have to sit through a Satanic ceremony:

For strategic reasons, I need to depose Mayor Wu at the Temple. She needs to see the people who she is excluding from the public sphere. She needs to hear the congregants' blessing ceremony. She must then answer why she refused to invite them, for favor of inviting someone else.

Oh, and by the way, he said in e-mail to a city attorney, he wondered if the city and Kelley were involved in "official corruption" in the case.

In quashing the deposition demand today, Kelley told Kezhaya he's skating on thin ice, that he needs to come to grips with basic legal and court procedures - like the way to try to get Wu in for questioning is to file a motion for her to reconsider her ruling denying that, not simply issuing a deposition subpoena and "status reports" claiming the judge did not earlier rule the way she ruled.

Any motion for reconsideration must state which additional facts, adduced through discovery in the intervening months, have materially changed the circumstances such that the deposition of Mayor Wu is now necessary. Such a motion must specify how such facts were adduced, what efforts the parties have made to discover the information Plaintiff seeks through the avenues permitted by the Protective Order, why the other witnesses the City has identified cannot be sources of this information and, why, on the basis of such newly discovered facts, there is reason to believe that Mayor Wu’s testimony will be of unique relevance to this case. Moreover, such a motion must further demonstrate that the above factors supporting modification outweigh the potential for the deposition to be harassing, duplicative, and unduly burdensome.

Kelley also ordered Kezhaya to immediately stop filing time-wasting "status reports" that serve no purpose other than to prove to her "that Plaintiff has not read or complied with [the court's] previous orders."

Kelley wrote that while she is taking no action on a request from the city for sanctions based on Kezhaya's renewed Wu deposition demand and what Kezhaya later clarified was simple "sarcasm" in his corruption accusation, she "will consider imposition of sanctions if Plaintiff’s counsel continues to indicate to the Court that he is not complying with orders or conducting discovery in good faith."

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Comments

He should be barred from practice in the District of MA. Kelley is enabling this behavior He is pushing her to see how outrageous he can be, and she’s telling him there will be no consequences other than some bland admonitions in a Court order.

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I've enjoyed the work of the Satanic Church nationally when it comes to the use of more mainstream religions to oppress others but this crusade (and yes I very specifically meant to use THAT word) against Councillor and now Mayor Wu just does not sit well.

It seems incredibly odd that they suddenly decided to go on this hunt and from day one seemed focus on Wu. It feels personal in a way that makes you question the true motivations of what they are doing. It's even more perplexing that it's a church that isn't even anywhere close to the Boston city limits. I am not even a mile away from the Boston municipal border and it would never occur to me to try to force the city to have my preferred church, the Church of Penguintology, deliver an invocation.

Michelle Wu isn't someone I would label as a religious zealot or someone particularly or remotely obsessed with using religion to push an agenda or discriminate others. Generally the Satanic Church illicits public sympathy for fighting THOSE fights. This fight is rather petty and quite frankly a complete waste of government resources as they are taking advantage of systems that are put in place to protect the rights of people. When these protocols are abused in this way it helps leads to the erosion of these processes because stipulations are put in place to avoid the issue in the future. Have you ever wondered why some government regulations are so complex and have more turns than a M. Night Shyamalan movie? This is why, because when you aren't wildly specific or wildly vague, depending on the circumstances, you get people who hyper focus on any little opening they can find and blast away at it until it's closed.

I don't care if people like or dislike Wu, that's not the point of any of my comment. It's simply a collasal waste of government resources in multiple cities and multiple layers of government. If you run the math this could easily be costing taxpayers from multiple jurisdictions hundreds of thousands of dollars for a rather petty crusade.

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This action doesn't appear on their wiki page under "Campaigns and Initiatives" which is (based on language used) written by TST members, and their own website's FAQ says that they should be contacted as a last resort only and most people should try to work through the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

On the other hand, I know a lot of their sound and fury over abortion restrictions has been pretty useless in terms of actually supporting people who need to access medical care, and is also on extremely shaky legal ground, so maybe they're just better at marketing than anything else.

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For what it's worth it is on their website though. I found it under current legal actions.

I think the point about not helping actual people who need things applies to a lot of movements and organizations.

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I didn't see a section for current legal actions on their website, and a search on the page didn't turn up anything. The Wiki page mentions the case against the Scottsdale, AZ invocations but not Boston.

Thank you for providing the link! It seems that maybe it's how they build their website that's affecting Google searches.

I did a search and just noticed that Satancon is in Boston next year. They announced in August. Last year was the first year they did it and it was in Scottsdale Arizona. Curious enough Scottsdale was chosen because, checks notes, their City Council wouldn't allow the Satanists to do an invocation. This is an interesting new twist, it's in their playbook apparently. I guess it was capped at 300 and they sold out.

More power to them , I hope they enjoy Boston and spend money in local stores and restaurants. I just think it's a sign that they are going to keep this push to garner free presh and attention. It doesn't feel like they care about actually affecting change in the real world. This is all just cosplay sadly.

Going after Mayor Wu this way seems odd, given what the organization generally does, as does the fact that they started this before she was mayor, in ways that feel very much like either taking sides in the election, a personal grudge, or both.

There's a plausible argument that the city shouldn't even have have religious invocations, but that if they're going to, they should find a way to do so that doesn't promote or support certain religious and exclude others. But that argument doesn't rest on "if the mayor saw our services, or had coffee with our members, she'd change her mind."

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I initially welcomed their message of "WTF does the city council have religious invocations and WTAF are they done by invitation only?" and I generally support similar freedom-from-religion activism they've done (and I'm personally a religious person), but I don't get them harassing the mayor and wasting her time.

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Pretty much all of the Salem Witches, who are greatly nature worshippers with no association with dark deities, are pretty fed up with these people. It's bad enough that some have been accosted and outright assaulted over the years by evangelical types, and especially around Halloween, but these characters set up shop there and are causing them a lot of negative associations and grief. Their presence in town was not welcome. They go out of their way to distance themselves from the so-called satanic genre.

Also worth noting that some of these so-called satanic (note small "s") groups have alignments with right-wing organizations and have very negative stances against the LGBTQ communities. Don't let the religious freedom argument sway you. We saw the same thing from right wing "christians" (note small "c") wanting to raise their questionable flags as well. And I know of no major church here, or at a national level, that was part of their law suits.

This is all about litigation for profit (not necessarily cash) and personal egos. They put on a good dog and pony show for separation of church and state but that is just the current stepping stone. Not that long ago one of their ever-changing attorneys was maintaining a PO box at a UPS shipping facility. How professional.

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Going to get the clue that elected officials aren't accountable to them?

"Laws for thee and none for me."

And yes, I know that Michelle hasn't broken any laws here - I'm just mocking the plaintiffs for their absolute goofball expectations of what a mayor of any municipality would ever be expected to do.

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Good point, except that the judge has repeatedly made clear that if only TST were pursuing the correct elected official (a member of the body that actually makes the decisions at issue, a.k.a. a current city councillor) instead of harassing the wrong elected official then everything could proceed normally, so it's a bad point.

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When they first sued, in January, 2021, Wu was still a city councilor and so might have had something to do with how the council picks religious leaders for invocations.

Then they overreached and went after her specifically and demanded she be "deposed" on Election Day, but made no similar demand of her opponent in the mayor's race, who was also a city councilor.

The judge didn't like that much, told them no, had some choice words for them and told the city to put in a bill for all the money its lawyers had spent defending Wu on the deposition matter.

Now, months later, she's no longer a councilor, the temple went right back after her and the judge again had to tell them no and to cut out the nonsense.

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Is Satan racist? Seems doubtful. Some of his minions are looking like they are, though.

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Seems that way - aggressively pursuing a minor issue to get attention was how Dersh got going in his adversarial show trial way.

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