Ex-ACLU attorney: Group ‘terrorizing’ U.S.

Please support the organizations you see in my blog post who oppose the ACLU.

An attorney who once worked for the American Civil Liberties Union has slammed the organization for “perverting” federal law by successfully threatening government officials into getting rid of public expressions of religion.
Rees Lloyd made the comments in an online podcast hosted by
Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., in which the two discuss the congressman’s legislation, the Public Expression of Religion Act, or PERA (H.R.2679). The bill would prohibit judges in civil suits involving the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause from awarding attorney’s fees to those offended by religious symbols or actions in the public square – such as a Ten Commandments display in a courthouse or a cross on a county seal.
Lloyd, a California civil-rights attorney, is an officer with the American Legion who wrote a resolution passed by the national organization supporting Hostettler’s bill.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Hostettler’s proposal would amend the Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Act of 1976, 42 U.S.C. Section 1988, to prohibit prevailing parties from being awarded attorney’s fee in religious establishment cases, but not in other civil rights filings. This would prevent local governments from having to use taxpayer funds to pay the ACLU or similar organization when a case is lost, and also would protect elected officials from having to pay fees from their own pockets.
In the podcast, Hostettler explains that the 1976 statute was meant to help “the little guy” who is going up against a governmental entity so he won’t be impoverished when working to guarantee the liberty to express or practice his faith. But, says the lawmaker, the ACLU has used the law to enrich itself at the expense of taxpayers and as a means to silence public officials who don’t want to be sued personally.
Hostettler says some organizations have created a new civil liberty – a right to be protected “from religion, which is found nowhere in the Constitution, nowhere in the Bill of Rights.” The Indiana congressman blames “a very select group” for “perverting” the original statute, including the ACLU, People for the American Way and Americans United for the Separate of Church and State.
“They use this statute to extort behavior out of individuals,” the congressman said, citing the Indiana Civil Liberties Union threatening local educators. The group sent a letter to officials saying they would be sued and be forced to pay attorney’s fees should any graduation prayers be offered at commencement ceremonies. The threat sent the message, Hostettler said, that individuals tied to school districts could be impoverished personally.
Said the lawmaker: “When officials see the potential threat of a lawsuit, they stop allowing children to write papers for English class – when they’re asked to write about the most important person in their life and they decide to write about Jesus Christ.”
Hostettler’s bill would allow cases to move through the courts without public officials worrying about being held personally liable for thousands in attorneys fees.
“Let’s let these cases go forward; let’s let the courts decide what’s constitutional and what’s not, and let’s not leave it up to the ACLU,” he said.
Hostettler explained that while government entities can pay attorney’s fees charged to individual elected officials, they don’t legally have to, which puts the politicians on the hook.
Saying most taxpayers are in favor of allowing public religious expression, the congressman noted the irony of those same taxpayers being forced to pay the ACLU to sue their local governments.
“The current threat to public officials is very real; it’s ongoing,” Hostettler stated. “It’s been the case for several years that public officials are scared to death to suggest any type of public recognition of our Christian roots. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed in Washington, D.C.”
PERA would prohibit damages, court fees and attorney’s fees from going to plaintiffs in establishment-clause suits while keeping the original purpose of the civil-rights law, Hstettler says, to provide a means for those whose religious liberties have been blocked to find justice.
The congressman wonders why the ACLU would oppose his legislation since it still provides for “injunctive relief” – e.g., a court can rule in the ACLU’s favor and force the removal of a Ten Commandments display – but takes out the monetary incentive for lawsuits.
“If they’re not out for the money but are really out to preserve our civil liberties … then the ACLU should not be opposing my bill,” Hostettler commented.
Hostettler mentioned the case of Judge Roy Moore in Alabama, whose colleagues on the state Supreme Court ordered the removal of a Ten Commandments display because, the congressman says, they didn’t want the state’s taxpayers to have to pay anymore than they did – $500,000 – to the ACLU as a result of the case.

Read the rest of the article here.

Leave a Reply

*