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October 01, 2006

Sunday Sermonette: Sinclair Lewis

April 5, 2006, originally uploaded by Grand Lake.

This summer the House quietly passed a bill to prevent lawyers from recovering fees from successful Establishment Clause lawsuits:

The Public Expression of Religion Act - H.R. 2679 - provides that attorneys who successfully challenge government actions as violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment shall not be entitled to recover attorneys fees. The bill has only one purpose: to prevent suits challenging unconstitutional government actions advancing religion.[WaPo]

Since 1988, the government has been picking up the legal tab for people who successfully sue the state for violating their civil or constitutional rights.

It's a very good system to ensure that you don't have to be rich to have your day in court. If the government has violated your constitutional rights, they least it can do is pick up the cost of your suing them.

H.R. 2679 is a brilliant piece of legislation from the Republican point of view. If enacted, it could simultaneously discourage at least three despised groups from clogging up the courts with their tiresome preoccupations: Atheists, religious minorities, and poor people!

Update: Alon Levy posted some excellent talking points against the bill four days ago.


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The Republicans are constitutional shipworms, too stupid to realize that their steady gnawing will eventually sink the whole thing. Idiots.

It's been going on for quite a while - if I'm not mistaken, the bill passed the House in August. I even posted talking points against it four days ago (though to be perfectly honest, I got it from Echidne).

I totally missed this story the first time around. Today was literally the first time I'd heard about it.

This has been long-standing goal of the theocratic right. This way, they get to tax the citizenry to maintain religious instrumentalities, tax the citizenry to pay their lawyers to defend the cases and not tax the citizenry to pay for legal fees or, really, any judgments, since there won't be any judgments against government entities since the lawyers will only take cases that are economically devastating, and probably not those either. (Plus they get to tell their anti-tax people that they are anti-tax and against big government, as if a government that has gotten into picking the official religion of the citizenry can be called anything but too big.)

It's time to get shrill on this issue.

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