While the nation is up in arms over media revelations of bonuses in the millions to AIG executives whose greed exceeds their competence and consciences, the media is all but silent about the ACLU – modernly, the Taliban of American liberal secularism — continuing its exploitation of the Civil Rights Attorney Fees Act of 1976 for enormous profits through judge-ordered, taxpayer-paid attorney fee “awards” in fanatical secular-cleansing lawsuits under the Establishment of Religion Clause against veterans memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, the Ten Commandments and seemingly any symbol or expression of our American history and heritage in the public square if it has a religious aspect.
Most recently, U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman ordered two of the poorest counties in Kentucky, Pulaski and McCreary, to pay a massive (for them) “$393,793” to two ACLU of Kentucky attorneys who successfully sued to ban the Ten Commandments from the counties’ courthouses.
The ACLU lawyers, David A. Friedman and William E. Sharp, sought and received taxpayer-paid attorney fees at a rate of over $300 per hour for an alleged 1,300 hours. Pulaski and McCreary Counties objected that both the hourly rate and the amount of hours claimed were excessive.
But Federal Judge Coffman, ruling like a feudal lord, assured of life tenure, accountable to no one, least of all taxpayers, waved aside the counties’ objections, granted the ACLU’s request, and stuck it to the taxpayers. Again.
A McCreary County spokesman said the county’s insurance wouldn’t cover the ACLU’s fee, and he didn’t know how the county would pay it. He said they might have to seek donations. By such means the ACLU fleeces and punishes taxpayers.
Matt Staver, renown constitutional attorney and author who is the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal firm defending religious freedom, has represented the counties pro bono. He said the counties only hope is to prevail on issues still on appeal.
The Civil Rights Attorney Fees Act, which authorizes courts to award attorney fees in successful civil rights cases, was benevolently intended by Congress to benefit poor people with legitimate civil rights claims by providing an incentive to lawyers to take their cases.
But the ACLU, and others, have corrupted and exploited that Act to reap millions in profits by judge-ordered, taxpayer-paid attorney fees in Establishment Clause legal attacks; and to use the very threat of imposition of such fees as a club with which to bludgeon public bodies into surrender to ACLU’s secular-cleansing demands.
As a former ACLU staff attorney, as a career-long civil rights attorney, I am outraged and disgusted by the ACLU’s continued exploitation for profit and political gain of the Civil Rights Attorney Fees Act.
The media, however, generally does not report on the ACLU’s abuses, and, thus, most Americans remain unaware of it.
Where are the media which howl self-righteously at Wall Street fat cats, but become pussy cats when it comes to reporting on the ACLU’s abuses of taxpayers? Where are the self-described “patriotic” liberals, and members of the ACLU, who should be the first to act to stop these abuses but remain silent while in their name the ACLU exploits and corrupts the Civil Rights Attorney Fees Act?
Where is the Democrat-controlled Congress which ignores the call of veterans to pass the Veterans Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expressions of Religion Act, which would rescind the authority of judges to award the ACLU, or anyone else, attorney fees in Establishment Clause cases, and, thus, treat American taxpayers as citizens with dignity rather than sheep to be sheared?
Indeed, most Americans remain unaware – in major part because of the media’s silence – that while the ACLU publicly postures as a benevolent, pro bono, not for profit, “public interest” legal organization representing the poor and oppressed, it in fact is profiting in the millions of taxpayer-dollars in exploitation of the Civil Rights Attorney Fees Act of 1976 by judge-ordered, taxpayer-paid attorney fees in secular-cleansing Establishment Clause attacks against the Boy Scouts, the Ten Commandments, veterans memorials, public seals, and seemingly any display on public land of symbols or expressions of our American history and heritage if they have a religious aspect, usually a Christian Cross, to which the ACLU reacts as hysterically and fanatically as Dracula – which may account for its bloodsucking of taxpayers for profit.
[Rees Lloyd is a longtime civil rights attorney, former ACLU attorney, and a veterans’ rights activist]