The most famous Ten Commandments monument case is the one in the State Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala., installed by former Chief Justice Roy Moore and ordered removed by a Carter-appointed federal judge. As their reward for winning its removal, the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center collected $540,000 in attorney's fees and expenses from Alabama taxpayers.
Kentucky taxpayers have handed over $121,500 to pay the ACLU for its action against the Ten Commandments display outside its state capitol. Taxpayers in one Tennessee county had to pay $50,000 to the ACLU for the same "offense."
The ACLU profited enormously, collecting $790,000 in legal fees, plus $160,000 in court costs, as a result of its suit to deny the Boy Scouts of America the use of San Diego's Balboa Park for a summer camp, a city facility the Scouts had used since 1915. The ACLU argued that the Boy Scouts must be designated a "religious organization" because it refuses to accept homosexual scoutmasters, and because the Scouts use an oath "to do my duty to God and my country."
In northern Minnesota, the Duluth city council voted 5-4 to acquiesce to the ACLU's demand to remove a Ten Commandments monument from public property because the city couldn't afford to pay the legal costs of defending the monument, plus the ACLU's legal fees. Redlands, Calif., likewise backed down after the ACLU threatened a lawsuit to force removal of a cross from part of the city logo.
Similar lawsuits could challenge "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, since the U.S. Supreme Court ducked deciding the issue June 14 in the Michael Newdow case. There are 16,000 public school districts that could become targets of lawsuits to ban the pledge.
Rep. John N. Hostettler, R-Ind., has introduced H.R. 3609 to end this racket by amending the federal law that makes it possible. Most lawsuits do not award attorney's fees to the winner, and the law should not give a financial incentive to those suing to stop our acknowledgment of God, or to continue a practice or a symbol that the U.S. people have approved for decades.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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