Wednesday, September 27, 2006
House Tries To Deny Legal Fees To ACLU In Religious Cases
Christians like to try to impose medieval public displays on our secular society. Christofascists complain when they are caught doing so.
The House passed a bill yesterday that would bar judges from awarding legal fees to the American Civil Liberties Union and similar groups that sue municipalities for violating the Constitution's ban on government establishment of religion.
Though the bill would prevent plaintiffs from recovering legal costs in any lawsuit based on the Establishment Clause, House Republicans said during a floor debate that it was particularly aimed at organizations that force the removal of Nativity scenes and Ten Commandments monuments from public property.
"Liberal groups . . . scour the country looking to sue cities and states with any kind of religious display, regardless of how popular these displays are," said Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.). Because judges often require municipalities that lose such lawsuits to reimburse their opponents' legal fees, "citizens' precious monuments are being eroded with their own tax dollars," she added. ...
Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office, said the measure is "election-year red meat for the Christian right, because they've been complaining they haven't gotten enough from this Congress."
Fredrickson added that it appears unlikely the Senate will pass the bill.
"But we're watching it, because it is designed to do real damage to First Amendment protections," she said. "What the backers of this legislation are leaving out of the discussion is that fees are only awarded when we've been successful in showing that someone's constitutional rights have been violated."