30 June 2005

Getting the Congressional Brushoff

Several weeks ago, those of us active in Stop The ACLU began to support the passage of HR 2679 known as the Public Expression of Religion Act of 2005 (PERA 2005). When we began our active support, I sent an email to my Congressman, Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, 14th Congressional District of Ohio. Today I received a letter from my Congressman. And in a sense got the proverbial brushoff. Here is what the letter said:
Thank you for your email urging support for H.R. 2679, the Public Expression of Religion Act. It was good to hear from you. This bill would prohibit attorney fees from being awarded in court cases concerning the "establishment of religion." As you shared, federal civil rights laws do permit courts the option of providing what are called "attorney fees." These are to help cover costs that are incurred from taking the case. Part of the reason for this reimbursement is to encourage lawyers to take civil rights cases they otherwise might not agree to represent. That said, there is a petition circulating to prohibit courts from granting attorney fees in civil rights suits altogether. Some argue that the use of this discretionary reimbursement has outlived its purpose. I know you raised particular concerns about the ACLU. As you may know, the ACLU is a nonprofit organization. As such, they are supported by annual dues and contributions from their members. They also receive grants from private foundations and individuals, but the do not receive any government funding. I hope this information is helpful. Should you have further questions about this or any other federal issue, please do not hesitate to contact me again. I remain
Very truly yours, Steven C. LaTourette Member of Congress
Obviously he will not be getting a vote from me again. He basically told me that the bill that I read isn't the bill that has been proposed. And that's bull. I read the bill. It only removes the awarding of attorney fees in 1st Amendment Establishment Clause cases. Cases that have no business in the court system to begin with. Until Congress passes a bill requiring all Americans to become members of a government sanctioned religion, then there should be no challenges. All these "Establishment Clause" cases involve displays of religion or personal speech regarding religion. And infringe upon my rights. And in doing so violates my 1st Amendment rights. "..., or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..." They all seem to forget that clause in the 1st Amendment. You cannot exercise a Constitutional right if in doing so you interfere with my ability to exercise mine. And these cases do just that. My point is, if these attorneys are going to sue on the grounds of a civil rights infringements, obviously if they win their client will be awarded damages. In that case, why can't they recover their legal expenses like personal injury attorneys. From a percentage of the awarded damages. And if they lose... Nothing. The contention that forcing a local, state, or the federal government to pay for attorney fees is "they do not receive any government funding" is outright inaccurate. Where do the fees awarded come from? The taxpayers. And that IS government funding. Regardless of what the Congressman says, they do take these cases in order to receive these fees. It is a source of income for them. The more challenges that they file and win, the more money they receive. If you take away the government awarding of these fees, you take away the incentive to file frivolous suits. Which in my opinion, they all are. Blogger's 1st Amendment Pledge If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.


Blogger John said...

Wow! What a jerk!

7/01/2005 11:32:00 PM  

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