Senators Urged by Legion to Stop Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars in Attacks on Veterans Memorials, Religious Symbols
Contact: Joe March, 317-630-1253, 317-748-1926 cell; Ramona Joyce, 202-263-2982, 202-445-1161 cell; both with The American Legion Media Office
Photo: Thomas L. Bock, National Commander, The American Legion
WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 /Christian Newswire/ -- The nation's largest veterans organization today called on the U.S. Senate to pass the "Veterans' Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act of 2006."
Representing American Legion National Commander Thomas L. Bock, former ACLU attorney and Dept. of Calif. District 21 Commander Rees Lloyd testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution urging passage of S. 3696, a similar bill to H.R. 2679, the Public Expression of Religion Act (PERA), sponsored by Rep. John Hostettler in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), would amend all federal laws with fee-shifting provisions, including the Civil Rights Attorney Fees Act, 42 U.S. Code 1988 and the Equal Access to Justice Act. It would eliminate the authority of judges to award taxpayer-paid attorney fees to the ACLU, or other organizations, in lawsuits brought under the Establishment Clause of the Constitution against veterans memorials, the Boy Scouts, or the public display of the Ten Commandments or other symbols of American history and religious heritage.
The American Legion has fought for passage of this reform legislation since the ACLU sued the Mojave Desert WWI Veterans Memorial and obtained a federal judge's order to destroy the solitary cross at that veterans' memorial, and then sought and received some $63,000 from that same judge as an attorney fee award --although neither the ACLU nor its mascot plaintiff, Frank Buono, retired former Assistant Superintendent of the Mojave Desert Preserve, had any actual attorney fees. The $63,000 went directly into ACLU coffers as profit.
"Most Americans remain unaware that the ACLU and other organizations have been reaping millions of dollars in taxpayer- paid profits in lawsuits against veterans memorials, the Boy Scouts, the public display of the Ten Commandments and other symbols of our American heritage," Bock said. "The American Legion is conducting an 'educate and activate' campaign to advise taxpayers of this abuse and urge them to contact both their representatives and senators to pass these laws to fix the problem once and for all."
Lloyd provided a number of examples in testimony today including some $950,000 in attorney fees awarded to the ACLU in a settlement with the City of San Diego in its lawsuit to drive the Boy Scouts out of Balboa Park. In the famous Judge Roy Moore Ten Commandments Case, the ACLU received $500,000. In the recent "Intelligent Design" case against the Dover school board, the ACLU received $2,000,000 in attorney fees by order of a judge -- although the law firm that represented the ACLU informed the court and public that it had acted pro bono and waived any attorney fees; it was pure profit to the ACLU.
Legion testimony noted that the ACLU has used the threat of imposition of taxpayer-paid attorney fees to force local elected bodies - city and county councils and school boards - into surrendering to the ACLU's demands to secularly cleanse the public square of any evidence of America's religious heritage. "That's judicial blackmail, plain and simple," Bock said.
Of particular concern to most veterans are the legal attacks on veterans' memorials.
Passage of S. 3696 and H.R. 2679 would end abuse of well- intended laws by the ACLU, and other organizations.
"This reform of the law should be supported by all Americans across all party, ideological, philosophical, and religious lines," Bock said. "The ACLU's profiteering at taxpayer expense by exploitation of benevolently intended civil rights laws designed to benefit poor people is a disgrace."
Bock urges all Americans to contact their Senators, and Representatives, in support of these bills.
An American Legion publication, In the Footsteps of the Founders - A Guide to Defending American Values, provides detailed information and is available free on request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download High Resolution Photo of National Commander Bock