Skip to comments.House Judiciary Committee Passes Public Expression of Religion Act (HR 2679)
Posted on 09/11/2006 11:23:53 AM PDT by Coleus
September 11, 2006
House Judiciary Committee Passes
Washington D.C. - On Friday the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee passed the Public Expression of Religion Act (PERA), also known as HR 2679. This bill will go to the full House for a vote. The bill's intent is to eliminate the chilling effect on the constitutionally protected expression of religion by state and local officials that results from the threat that a plaintiff may seek damages and attorney's fees. If the bill passes, advocacy groups like the ACLU would no longer be able to use the threat of monetary awards to force the removal of Ten Commandments displays, Nativity scenes, crosses from city seals, or the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.
Congressman Hostettler, who introduced the bill, stated, "This is a big victory for Americans who care about our rich religious heritage in this country. There is a lot of excitement about this bill." Senator Sam Brownback sponsored a similar Senate bill.
Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, gave oral testimony in favor of this bill before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights. Mr. Staver pointed out that in every other area of litigation, a plaintiff must have sustained a direct injury in order to sue, but in Establishment Clause claims, a plaintiff merely has to claim he or she was offended by some religious symbol or action. This unusual exception has opened the floodgates to litigation. Mr. Staver also pointed out that Establishment Clause interpretation is both confused and conflicted. Government officials should not be financially punished for a minor misstep in this constitutional minefield. If the Act passes, a plaintiff who files suit and wins under the Establishment Clause would be entitled to an injunction, but could not recover damages, attorney's fees or costs, which have in some cases surpassed five hundred thousand dollars.
Mathew D. Staver commented: "The Public Expression of Religion Act is long overdue. The threat of attorney's fees and damages has been wielded like a bully club to beat local government officials into submission, even when the church-state claims are outrageous and frivolous. When the Supreme Court candidly admits that its Establishment Clause decisions are 'hopelessly confused,' how can we expect local government officials to navigate in the dark and then hit them with financial penalties?"
A transcript of Mr. Stavers congressional testimony is available on Liberty Counsels web site, www.LC.org. For more information call us at 800-671-1776 and order our free brochure entitled "Taking the Club Out of the Bully's Hand." Here are a few ways you can support PERA:
Never Forget 9-11-01
This is a particularly solemn day as we remember the terrible events of that September morning five years ago. We lift up in prayer the families of those whose lives were changed forever by the loss of precious loved ones. Even in light of such tragedy we can give thanks to know that our God is still in control. Only a sovereign God is able to bring good results from tragedy in the lives of those who trust in Him. We pray that all in this great nation will be reminded of our need for the Lord. This life on earth is important, to be sure, but much more important is that we spend eternity with Him. Do you know an unbeliever who needs to hear that assurance? Tell them about Jesus today.
Well it's about time.
Pray for the passage of this bill. We need to push it through the House and Senate before the November elections. The Dims are sure to try and knock this one down, ACLU corroborators that they are.
It could have been MUCH better, had it applied in ALL cases to a "loser pays" mandate on Lawyer fees, so that frivolous lawsuits would cost the plaintiff not only his own legal fees (which usually are minimal, as jackpot-justice lawyers will take cases on a contingency-fee basis only, or the ACLU-taxpayer-funded socialists try to appropriate someone elses' money)), and the money-chaser would have to pay ALL legal expenses and court costs for a suit that is found in favor of the Defendant.
The left will be in overdrive to kill this.
What are the chances of it passing the House?
Zounds! This sounds like...common sense! Too bad common sense has to be legislated.
Did the ACLU get to testify for the other side? If so, just for grins, I'd like to know what they said.
The requirement to legislate common sense is one of the early warning signs of a failing set of morals within a society.
Will pass the house along party lines with the exception of Democrats who live in districts with many churches.
It will never get out of the Senate.
This bill really doesn't seem to do what is implied here. It does nothing to change the constitutionality of any actions, it mearly defines one subset of constitutional violations as exempt from awards of damages.
If the republicans work this right,they can have a winning issue here.They need to make a really big deal out of this with the media so they can corner democrats.If the democrats vote against it the republicans can say they are anti-religion and use it in the election too!
Power is their only desire no matter how it is obtained. They are not nice people.
-The requirement to legislate common sense is one of the early warning signs of a failing set of morals within a society.-
No argument there. The more laws we have, the less they all mean.