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July 21, 2004

Posted 12:55 AM Eastern

The American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center collected $540,000 in attorney's fees and expenses from the Alabama taxpayers for their court battles against former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore over a Ten Commandments display inside the rotunda of the Alabama State Judicial Building

The ACLU filed suit to deny the Boy Scouts of America the use of San Diego's Balboa Park for their summer camp. The Boy Scouts had previously used this facility since 1915. For this effort, the ACLU received $790,000 in fees paid for by taxpayers.

Taxpayers in Kentucky have been stung to the tune of more than $121,500 in lawyers fees paid to the ACLU for its action regarding a Ten Commandments display outside the State Capitol in Frankfort. Another county in Tennessee was found guilty of the same violation of the First Amendment and the taxpayers ended up paying the ACLU $50,000 in lawyers fees.

The County of Los Angeles recently decided to dump their 47 year old county seal rather than face the possibility of losing to the ACLU, which could have cost the local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawyers fees to the ACLU.

How is it the taxpayers end up footing the legal bills for the ACLU and similar organizations? A 1976 federal law called the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act states:

Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976 (42 U.S.C.A. � 1988) � 1988. Proceedings in vindication of civil rights

(a) Applicability of statutory and common law

The jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters conferred on the district courts by the provisions of titles 13, 24, and 70 of the Revised Statutes for the protection of all persons in the United States in their civil rights, and for their vindication, shall be exercised and enforced in conformity with the laws of the United States, so far as such laws are suitable to carry the same into effect; but in all cases where they are not adapted to the object, or are deficient in the provisions necessary to furnish suitable remedies and punish offenses against law, the common law, as modified and changed by the constitution and statutes of the State wherein the court having jurisdiction of such civil or criminal cause is held, so far as the same is not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States, shall be extended to and govern the said courts in the trial and disposition of the cause, and, if it is of a criminal nature, in the infliction of punishment on the party found guilty.

(b) Attorney's fees

In any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of sections 1981, 1981a, 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1986 of this title, title IX of Public Law 92-318 [20 U.S.C.A. � 1681 et seq.], the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 [42 U.S.C.A. � 2000bb et seq.], title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [42 U.S.C.A. � 2000d et seq.], or section 13981 of this title,, [FN1] the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity such officer shall not be held liable for any costs, including attorney's fees, unless such action was clearly in excess of such officer's jurisdiction.

(c) Expert fees

In awarding an attorney's fee under subsection (b) of this section in any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of section 1981 or 1981a of this title, the court, in its discretion, may include expert fees as part of the attorney's fee.

There are literally thousands of Ten Commandment displays throughout the country which represents what some are calling a "cash cow" for the ACLU and other similar organizations. All over the country, cities and counties are collectively holding their breath as they wait for the ACLU to get around to them. There is a bill currently in the 108th Congress, H.R. 3609 which is designed to curb the abuse of the original intent of the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act.

The introduction for H.R. 3609 (search) reads: To Amend the Revised Statutes of the United States to eliminate the chilling effect on the constitutionally protected expression of religion by State and local officials that results from the threat that potential litigants may seek damages and attorney's fees.

The ACLU was founded in the 1920s by Roger Baldwin and Crystal Eastman, described as a "progressive" and "the perfect feminist." Reviewing the book, Roger Nash Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union, by Robert C. Cotterell, Thomas Hilbink writes:

"Following the Russian Revolution, Baldwin was enamored of the communist experiment taking place in the Soviet Union and was quite vocal in his support for those attempting to make Marx's communist vision a reality. While seemingly contradictory, his double standard reveals the extent to which Baldwin's main cause at the time was communism. He was not concerned with wholesale violations of civil liberties by the Soviets, but he remained a staunch supporter of civil liberties at home. Civil liberties, he believed, could facilitate the process by which communism could bloom and grow in the United States. The struggle for freedom of expression was tied, in Baldwin's mind, to the class struggle. Baldwin was not even convinced that civil liberties could serve a genuine good. As he wrote:

"[T]he fiction that constitutional American rights can be maintained through law has been pretty well exploded. Everywhere the realization is growing that legal rights are hollow shams without political and economic power to enforce them. The road to industrial freedom is the way to all freedom" (p. 128)."

Earl Browder was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the United States from 1930 through its dissolution in 1944. When the Party was reconstituted as the Communist Political Association later that year, Browder was chosen as its President. Browder proudly proclaimed that the ACLU functioned as "a transmission belt" for the party.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State was founded in 1947 following the famous Everson v. Board of Education (search) decision the same year.

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The ACLU filed suit to deny the Boy Scouts of America the use of San Diego's Balboa Park for their summer camp. The Boy Scouts had previously used this facility since 1915. For this effort, the ACLU received $790,000 in fees paid for by taxpayers.