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For third time, federal judge tells Satanists they cannot force Michelle Wu to undergo questioning in their Salem lair

On Friday, US District Court Judge Angel Kelley once again rejected a demand from the lawyer for the Satanic Temple that she order Mayor Wu to attend a temple convocation and then answer questions about how the Boston City Council selects local clergy to give the invocations that start council meetings.

The Satanic Temple sued the City Council in January, 2021 over the way it has refused to let one of its practitioners give an invocation to start a council meeting, which the group says is a violation of the First Amendment ban on government recognition of specific religions, since Catholic priests and Protestant ministers are invited on the regular to give the invocations.

As she has done before, starting with a Satanist demand Wu undergo several hours of questioning on Election Day last year, Kelley said the Satanists would need an awfully good reason to warrant "calling high ranking government officials as witnesses" for a deposition. She ruled the group had failed to provide one - especially since it has yet to question the "representative whom the City designated as the person with knowledge of Mayor Wu’s subjective intent," from back in her days as City Council President.

Kelley said she will not change her "protective order" barring a deposition of Wu until that happens and the temple does so and can show that the City Council staffer who showed up in Salem "cannot provide specific information that is necessary to the resolution of Plaintiff’s claims."

In September, a Satanic lawyer charged that the city and Kelley were corrupt and engaged in a conspiracy against his clients, although a few days later, he said he was just being humorous - and then threatened a new suit against the city to make it let the Satanists run their flag up on one of the flagpoles on City Hall Plaza.



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"Get thee out of my courtroom, Satanists!"

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his behavior has made a mockery of the court. What incentive does he have to stop?

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Are they seriously claiming that it's a violation of the First Amendment for a court not to require someone -- namely Mayor Wu -- to attend a temple convocation of someone else's religion.

That's the "establishment of religion" part -- the Bill of Rights says both that the government can't stop you from practicing your own religion, and that they can't make you practice anyone else's.

Does their lawyer even realize that he's asking the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to establish a state religion?

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The First Amendment issue relates to the refusal of any councilors to invite somebody from the Satanic Temple to start a City Council meeting.

To make their case to a jury, should they get that far, they want to do a deposition of Michelle Wu on the hows and whys of the council's long-standing policy on how those invitations are made (basically, the councilors take turns inviting a clergy member) - with the ultimate goal of showing this violates the Establishment clause of the First Amendment, since the council is allegedly discriminating against non-Christian religions.

When they first demanded Wu, and only Wu, show up in Salem on Election Day, the judge said, no, cut that out, work out another date.

Then after admitting they wanted to mess with Wu (her opponent in November was not asked to be deposed, at least not initially), the judge said, nope, you're not going to pull that, you can't just drag a high-ranking official in for harassment/embarrassment purposes.

The city offered city-council staffers in a position to answer questions about how the council process worked, but, now, it seems the Satanists haven't deposed them, or at least not the one with the closest connection to Wu's thoughts on the issue, so again the judge is saying, no, you're not going to get to drag Wu up to Salem - until you depose the staffers and then make a convincing case they couldn't answer your questions.

As for whether making Wu sit through a Satanic Temple ceremony would violate her rights, that hasn't come up yet.

The temple did finally depose Annissa Essaibi George. Before its lawyer started asking her questions, an "ordained Minister of Satan," lowered the lights, lit some candles and recited a temple invocation.

The satanists' lawyer entered a copy of the deposition in the docket (you can read the whole thing), but the judge did not comment, except to say she had gotten tired of the lawyer filing lots of documents that had nothing to do with the immediate questions before the court.

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I don’t care what anybody says, there are lawyers that are not Satanic. This is definitely true, I swear. They may not be very good, but at least they’re not Satanic.

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