City drops Equal Rights action against Anchorage attorney
The Anchorage Equal Rights Commission has dropped its action against Anchorage attorney Kevin Clarkson.
Clarkson got sideways with the commission after speaking about a client's situation with reporters during a Municipal election cycle. A ballot measure seeking to regulate restrooms based on sex was up for a vote, a topic similar to a freedom of religion case his client, Downtown Hope Center, found itself embroiled in.
Proceedings with the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission are to remain private until and unless a case is brought after the investigation phase concludes. Clarkson, in speaking about the Hope Center's faith-based mission to serve and shelter homeless women and its faith- and mission-based desire to prohibit entry to transgender women, violated AERC's rules, according to the city.
But, the AERC has chosen not to pursue the speech-related charges.
"The city settled after concluding there was little to be gained by litigating the role of an attorney advocating for a client in a discrimination case – time and resources would be better spent looking at the actions of a shelter that receives public funds," the city wrote in a prepared statement about this limited aspect of the overall case.
The Downtown Hope Center still faces a discrimination suit in state court, while the city and the Equal Rights Commission face a countersuit in Federal court.
“We are pleased that we can now continue representing our clients with the appropriate legal counsel every citizen deserves,” said Kevin Clarkson, an attorney with Brena, Bell & Clarkson, P.C., through a statement prepared by First Liberty Institute, a legal organization dedicated to religious freedom. “Thankfully, the AERC recognized that it had overstepped its authority and properly brought this matter to an appropriate resolution.”
Clarkson stopped representing the Downtown Hope Center while the AERC's charges remained in place. With the charges dropped, he's once again representing the Downtown Hope Center in the discrimination suit.