Legislation designed to protect municipalities — when groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sue to have Ten Commandments displays or crosses removed from public property — passed the House on a 242-173 vote this afternoon.
H.R. 2679 — the Public Expression of Religion Act (PERA) — moves on to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain. The bill would prohibit the plaintiff in a religious liberties case from being awarded attorneys’ fees for attacking public expressions of faith.
Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., told CitizenLink his bill is absolutely necessary.
"The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, for instance, was told by the ACLU that if they did not remove the tiny cross in the county seal, the county would be sued by the ACLU, the ACLU would probably win, and the county would not only have to pay its attorneys’ fees in the lawsuit, it would have to pay the ACLU’s as well," the congressman said.
Hostettler said when confronted with the possibility of having to pay up to $1 million in attorneys’ fees, L.A. County supervisors chose to remove the cross.
"The ACLU did this without darkening the doorstep of a federal courthouse," he said, "and that needs to change."
…Bob Knight, director of culture and family issues with Concerned Women for America, said another classic example is the ACLU win that forced the Boy Scouts out of their camp in San Diego’s Balboa Park. The ACLU collected $950,000 in legal fees.
"It’s like paying a thug for the privilege of being mugged," Knight said. "The ACLU and other groups have shaken down public officials and private groups and benefited greatly in legal fees. In essence, this is really a ‘stop the bullying’ bill."