Lawyers have initiated court action against Fox Sports for the network’s firing of Craig James, reportedly because of James’ traditional Christian belief that marriage is between a man and woman. Legal papers specifically call out Fox Sports’ Co-President Eric Shanks, who James claims made “the Godfather call” to terminate him.
Fox Sports took James off the air, with the Dallas Morning News quoting a Fox spokesperson saying, “We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn’t say those things here.”
The statements in question were made when James was running as a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012, not on air during any sports broadcast. Yesterday, Fox Sports contradicted its earlier statement, claiming that James was fired because the decision to hire him was “not properly vetted” and James was “not a good fit for Fox Sports.”
Lawyers at Liberty Institute, a Texas-based law firm specializing in First Amendment litigation representing James, sent a letter to Fox Sports demanding they reinstate James.
Today, Hiram Sasser at Liberty Institute filed a Rule 202 motion for pre-litigation discovery in Texas court. As Sasser explained to Breitbart News, “This filing is an extraordinarily powerful tool to quickly get to the bottom of this situation.” Rule 202 also allows a judge to take expedited action and order depositions within weeks.
The Rule 202 petition asks a Texas judge to order Shanks, Co-President Randy Freer, and Fox Sports Southwest Manager Jon Heidtke to give sworn testimony regarding this situation. It also asks a judge to order Fox Sports to surrender copies of all internal communications, as well as communications with Sports Illustrated (which first revealed that Fox was pulling James off the air) and the Dallas Morning News related to the decision to terminate Craig James.
James’ lawyers reject Fox Sports’ new claim in which they change their story to claim James was not terminated for his traditional and mainstream Christian beliefs on marriage. Craig James tells Breitbart News the decision came from the very top: “My agent told me that Eric Shanks himself said he made ‘the Godfather call’ to fire me.”
It should also be noted that James ran for Senate as a Republican, and the Texas Republican Party platform agrees with James’s position. The Texas state constitution enshrines traditional marriage as the sole standard for marriage in the state of Texas; the constitutional amendment was passed in 2005 by a 76 percent to 24 percent margin.
Liberty Institute is demanding that James be reinstated. Their demand letter says that the decision to terminate him is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which does not permit employers to take action against an employee because of the employee’s religious beliefs.
The parties agree that James’ viewpoint on this issue is derived from his sincerely-held religious beliefs.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.