Home » Intelligent Design » Write to Your Congresscritters in Support of H.R. 2679

Write to Your Congresscritters in Support of H.R. 2679

First, my thanks to occasional UD commenter and blogger Larry Fafarman for bringing this to my attention.

This bill, introduced in the U.S. House with 50 cosponsers, seeks to bar awarding attorney’s fees in lawsuits involving the 1st amendment establishment clause and limit the awards to injunctive relief. The multi-million dollar attorney fees collected by the ACLU have had a chilling effect on the religious freedom clause of the 1st amendment. Because of this public officials no longer ask “is this the right thing to do?” but rather “can we afford to lose a legal battle with a vast hoard of ACLU attorneys?”. Financial intimidation like this is just plain un-American and wrong.

Contact your representatives in the U.S. House and Senate and tell them you support this bill. It’s easy to do. For the House go here and start by entering your zip code. You’ll eventually be led to a form you can fill out that’s delievered to your representative. For the Senate go here and do the same thing starting with the “find your senators” button in the upper right corner. It’s more important to contact your House Representative right now but it won’t hurt to let your Senator know ahead of time should the bill make it out of the House.

Be sure to mention the bill as Public Expression of Religion Act of 2005, H.R. 2679

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12 Responses to Write to Your Congresscritters in Support of H.R. 2679

  1. Public officials would be better off asking themselves “is this consitutional”? If they answered that question first, they might save everyone a great deal of time and money. Say, for example, these guys:

    http://www.aclu.org/religion/s.....60605.html

    Who declined to let a young girl sing a religious song in a talent show. If the school officials had answered the question “is this constitutional” before refusing to let her sing the song, they wouldn’t now be facing a lawsuit.

    Unfortunately they can’t ask that either because they can’t afford to be wrong. So they have to err on the side of restricting someone’s freedom of religion rather than risk restricting someone’s freedom from religion. And that’s the whole problem – the constitution has been tortured into granting an absolute right to freedom FROM religion. It doesn’t say that and that tortured interpretation won’t last much longer. -ds

  2. Absolutely!!!

    Dan

  3. 3

    Dave,

    The bill number is 2679, not 2769 as incorrectly stated in the title of your post.

    Those contacting their members of Congress should also identify the bill by its title, Public Expression of Religion Act of 2005, to help prevent confusion.

    AFAIK, there is no Senate version of the bill yet.

    Thanks for bringing this matter to the attention of UD readers.

    Thanks Larry. It’s corrected. -ds

  4. 4

    tnewell wrote in Comment #1 –

    “If the school officials had answered the question ‘is this constitutional’ before refusing to let her sing the song, they wouldn’t now be facing a lawsuit. ” —

    One of the problems here was that the school officials were caught between a rock and hard place — they were afraid that someone else would sue them if they allowed her to sing the song. Indeed, the ACLU acknowledged this dilemma in the article that you cited.

    There is a similar case where a high-school valedictorian in Nevada is suing school officials for pulling the microphone plug on her when she started to talk about religion during her valedictory. The following blog article has an extensive discussion of this case (it happened in Nevada, not Colorado as incorrectly stated in the article) —
    http://scienceblogs.com/dispat.....uation.php

    Another problem is that establishment clause cases and free exercise clause cases are generally an area of the law that is very uncertain, inconsistent, and unpredictable. The ACLU et al. use the threat of exorbitant attorney fee awards to blackmail governments into refraining from doing things that the courts might hold to be constitutional.

    Actually, I would prefer a bill that would just cap attorney fee awards for both establishment clause cases and free exercise cases and that would not restrict relief to injunctive relief. But the problem of exorbitant attorney fee awards in establishment clause cases has gotten out of hand and I feel that something needs to be done and that the present bill is better than nothing.

    I suggest the following articles on my blog –

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....y-fee.html

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....sucks.html

  5. The First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It sounds to me like the Founding Fathers didn’t want the US Congress to establish a state church, like the Church of England, or for the government to persecute people or restrict their freedoms on the basis of their religious beliefs.

    How on earth did this get twisted to mean that a child in a public school can’t sing a religious song in a talent show? And what about all those wonderful, inspiring, soulful, American black Christian spirituals? Are these songs prohibited as well by the US Constitution? Does this mean that classical music like Handel’s Messiah is unconstitutional in a publicly funded setting?

    How did we ever arrive at this level of transparent lunacy? This is political correctness gone stark raving mad.

  6. I’m not convinced of the wisdom of this bill. It’s clear that it’s aimed almost soley at the ACLU. The problem is that if you support the use of law for the victimisation of special interest groups, then you really can’t complain when the political wind changes, and you find yourselves the ones under attack.

    This is not to say that you don’t have to oppose ACLU activities, but I think there are better ways of doing it. For example, set up a defence (sorry, defense) fund to support groups being sued by the ACLU. Or offer your time and expertise [i]for free[/i] to those being sued. If the ACLU is wrong, then it should be demonstrable in a court of law: you just need to make sure that both sides have adequate legal representation.

    Bob

    I don’t have a problem with awarding actual and punitive damages. Lawyers can then take a prearranged percentage of the award if they win. What has happened to subvert the process is that exhorbitant legal fees have replaced the punitive damage and by not seeking anything more than injunctive relief a trial by jury is avoided. So basically it’s become a case of having your cake and eating it to. You get to avoid a trial by a jury of peers through seeking only injunctive relief (and I think we both know that if these are jury trials the outcome would likely be the polar opposite) but get to keep the punitive intimidation intended to discourage similar abuses in the future.

    What would you say to simply making it a requirement that all establishment clause cases be jury trials? I’m okay with that. Of course I doubt you are which should reveal that you want an elite highly educated class such as federal judges making the decision instead of a cross section of the public in the time-tested American way of a trial by a jury of peers. I don’t care for elitist rule, Bob. Never have, never will. It’s un-American. -ds

  7. 7

    Bob in wrote in Comment #6 –
    “I’m not convinced of the wisdom of this bill. It’s clear that it’s aimed almost soley at the ACLU.”

    I just want to point out that the Americans United for Separation of Church and State is also deeply involved in establishment clause lawsuits.

    DaveScot wrote in Comment #6 –
    “What has happened to subvert the process is that exhorbitant legal fees have replaced the punitive damage and by not seeking anything more than injunctive relief a trial by jury is avoided. “

    Rule 38 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “Jury Trial of Right,” says — “The right of trial by jury as declared by the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution or as given by a statute of the United States shall be preserved to the parties inviolate.”

    The Seventh Amendment says, in part: “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved….”

    So you are right — unless the right to a jury trial in a federal civil case is otherwise established by statute, there is no right to a jury trial if the amount in controversy is $20 or less. Also, the Seventh Amendment is not applied to state courts except where federally created rights are involved — see http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/...../01.html#5

    DaveScot wrote –
    “What would you say to simply making it a requirement that all establishment clause cases be jury trials? I’m okay with that. “

    I don’t think that Congress would ever pass a law requiring a jury trial, though Congress might pass a law giving any party the right to request a jury trial in a particular type of case where the amount in controversy is $20 or less. Having a jury adds to the expense of a lawsuit because of the time required to select a jury.

    I got it. The right to a jury trial is preserved when the amount in controversy, plus any attorney fees, exceeds $20. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Just a minor change too. How’s that sound? -ds

  8. We have lived in a law-tocracy for too long. Our constitution gives People freedoms to dissent. Mercenary lawyers from special interest groups take them away or they force the majority into a minority role without rights.

    Our lawmakers meet to long, accomplish to little and do not serve the people today. They serve special interest, themselves or Federal oversight to the point of choking out all freedom.

    I’ll gladly call, write and ask for support of this bill.

    Imagine how many books, software learning tools, desk, art supplies, music, science, math, could be paid for by a million dollars. The ACLU mercenary Hack War Dawgs claim it for themselves and then feign mercy to the city and public. All the while obliterating a small community and the peoples rights to locally govern themselves.

    Our Founding Fathers approved bills authorizing purchase of Bibles for distribution to schools. This little known truth should be shared with the People. We suffer from lack of knowledge of our own history. The People pay taxes that support our federal governments existence. But Judges, lawyers and special interest groups ransom, blackmail and override the will of the people in a form of Taxation without Representation.

    Had Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln lived today a battle cry would sound loudly, rallying all to their countries aid, announcing the Kings men are here, Tyrant, Tyrant! Toss them and their McEvo Teabags into the harbor! Cross the Delaware and attack those Paid to Harm our very childrens lives! Denounce those whom enslave us in darkness and indoctrination of politically correct Fad-Topias shown on Oprah and Larry King.

    Yes, McEvos have freedoms, but so do We the Majority. And you cannot force your educational versions upon our children any longer without critical review and opposing evidence to the contrary. After 150 years of failed science, its time this charade be named; Snake Oil Science. No experimental evidence, no reptiles to birds, no flies suddenly morphing, nada, zilch, zero. Pay us for selling you a bottle of snake oil. You’ll experience the sensation of Cloud 9, while we indoctrinate your children into believing all behavior is equal and science does not need to account for made up stories.

    The People are rising up, trying to take back their schools, their ability to govern themselves and this nation. And its high time we all claim our inalianable rights to freedom of speech, to govern, and tell Judges, lawyers and the Federal government to take a hike. Stay out of our homes, our bedrooms, and our childrens minds.

    The Constitution has been twisted for the power of a few that squash all dissent. This is not ethical and it is not the original intent of our Founding Fathers. Whose very children grew up learning their ABC’s from biblical stories, names and symbols from Judaeo/Christian text. Every parent has the right to insist their children learn values that do not go against what is taught in their home without a recourse to optional learning and rebuttal. That is all that is being asked. That evidence to the contrary be presented so that all sides can be weighed. A self-elected few have no right to enforce their views on the masses. This pathway to doom in our nations history is hopefully and quickly on its last mile.

    This is not government by the few, of the few, lording it over the many. By eliminating all viewpoints critical of Darwin, NDE and RM, our children suffer. With no expectation to reason, debate and discuss alternative views, they disenfranchise our children with forced fed educational indoctrination. It turned me completely off when teachers could not allow for opposing viewpoints into the classroom.

    Apparently, tolerance is keyword these days for One Way Street. The few have a right to demand that the many bow down to them all in the name of a false pretense to civil liberties. Yet somehow lost in this battle of wills is the civil liberties to oppose such vacuous claims of the minority.

    No more, no longer and No End but Victory! And We the People shall allow the few more rights than they have allowed us.

    NICE rant. I swear I started hearing The Star Spangled Banner while reading it. :-) -ds

  9. 9

    DaveScot wrote in Comment #7 –
    “I got it. The right to a jury trial is preserved when the amount in controversy, plus any attorney fees, exceeds $20. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Just a minor change too. How’s that sound?”

    Actually, I took a second look and the situation is much more complicated than I thought it was. FindLaw has three webpages of annotations for the Seventh Amendment. The last page just covers appeals from state courts to the Supreme Court — the first two webpages are on –
    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/...../01.html#5
    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/.....07/02.html

    It gets very complicated — for example, in some lawsuits, the claims might be split between jury and non-jury trials, and in some lawsuits the judge might give the jury instructions about how or what to rule. I don’t want to give my own interpretations of these annotations because I am likely to be wrong. Also, even if the plaintiff tries to prevent a right to a jury trial by keeping any monetary claim down to $20 or less, perhaps the defendant could establish a right to a jury trial by making a counterclaim for over $20. I don’t know.

    Also, I just want you to know that Ed Brayton has attacked your post — see

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispat.....r_2679.php

    Not much of an attack. Just a bunch of hand-waving and fabrications. No substance whatsoever. -ds

  10. What has happened to subvert the process is that exhorbitant legal fees have replaced the punitive damage and by not seeking anything more than injunctive relief a trial by jury is avoided.

    As far as I’m aware, this is a problem throughout the US legal system, not just in establishment clause cases. So why single them out? Why not try to lower lawyers’ fees generally?

    Bob

    Is it being abused in other types of cases? -ds

  11. DS, no doubt I do go over the top at times…. and I enjoyed that spiel, OK, flag is folded now and will not bring it out again until another “public has the right to know issue” ;-)

    Ohhh say can you see… home of the brave and no longer land of the ACLU minions, when people return to their senses and remember they are the WE that govern.

  12. Is it being abused in other types of cases? -ds

    Well, the BBC thinks so. And googling ‘”tort reform” abuse’ brings up several sites, so some people think the problem is more widespread.

    You could always try an experiment: set up a “MacDonalds, Pepsi and WalMart are evil” website, and see what happens. :-)

    Bob

    Tort reform in general has a been a hot button issue in the U.S. for perhaps decades now but it’s because of huge punitive damages that juries are slapping on big corporations. The concern is that these damages are vastly inflating the price of things (especially medical equipment and health care but another good example is the near death of the certified piston-single aircraft industry) and stifling innovation. It stifles innovation because things that have been in production a long time have an established safety record that makes it very difficult to win judgements against them while something with a new wrinkle of some sort hasn’t a safety record to fall back on its defense. The issue with the civil rights cases is different in that there are no huge punitive damages being handed out but rather that no punitive damages are sought in order to avoid a jury trial and where excessive legal fees are effectively being used as a proxy for excessive punitive damages. -ds

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