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American House of Representatives Passes Measure on Religion Suits
By Ziad Bitti :: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 :: 19344 Views :: Government & Society

Califoria, USA -- Chaldean attorney, Kevin Najor reports that 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.

“Many of these organizations are simply trying to intimidate and use activist judges as a way to raise money for their personal causes.  Many attorneys are outraged at groups like the ACLU and other similar organizations that have become the strong arm of reckless causes.”

The bill would prevent plaintiffs from recovering legal costs in any lawsuit based on the Establishment Clause; the House said during a floor debate that it was particularly aimed at organizations that force the removal of Nativity scenes and Ten Commandments monuments.

"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.

The bill, called the Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act, passed 244 to 173 on a mostly party-line vote.  Democrats overwhelmingly voted to allow groups to sue religious groups and recoup costs for the lawsuit. 

The American Legion, the Southern Baptist Convention and other conservative groups began pushing for the legislation after a Pennsylvania judge awarded $2 million to the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The two groups had successfully sued the school board in Dover, Pa., for requiring science teachers to teach "intelligent design" alongside evolution. The award was later reduced to $1 million.

Citizen groups were also irked when a judge awarded $550,000 to three groups -- Americans United, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU of Alabama -- after they prevailed in a lawsuit against former Alabama chief justice Roy S. Moore's display of the Ten Commandments.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.), said the ACLU and similar groups are "profiteering" from tax dollars. 

Public schools are predominantly intimated by these groups to encourage and support their causes.  Public schools remain a primary target by ACLU and other groups should they consider including any Christian religious history on school property, but often receive a pass for non-Christian history discussion.