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Saturday, March 04, 2006

American Legion Campaign Backs Anti-ACLU Bill

The American Legion, with 2.7-million members the largest veterans organization in the world, has launched a nationwide grass-roots campaign to support a bill in Congress that would stop the ACLU from receiving taxpayer-paid attorney fees in the many religious-establishment cases against the Boy Scouts, the public display of the Ten Commandments and other symbols of America's religious history and heritage.

The Public Expression of Religion Act, or PERA, would amend the Civil Rights Attorney Fees Act to withdraw the authority of courts to award attorney fees, or damages, to the American Civil Liberties Union, or anyone else, in lawsuits brought under the Establishment of Religion clause in the First Amendment.

Generally unknown to the public, the ACLU has received enormous attorney fee awards from judges in Establishment Clause cases.

The American Legion argues that not a single judge, as far as is known, has exercised the court's discretion to deny the ACLU's motions for attorney fees – usually at $350 an hour – to be paid by taxpayers.

This has been done in spite of the fact that the ACLU has incurred no actual attorney expenses, because its lawsuits are handled by staff or volunteer lawyers.

The Legion says the ACLU has used the threat of attorney fees to intimidate cities, counties, school boards and other locally elected bodies into surrendering to its demands to remove religion from the public square.

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