Judge says OK Ten Commandments display is OK
The courts have ruled in different ways in cases involving displays of the Ten Commandments and other symbols of a religious nature on public property. The unpredictability of court decisions in these cases in particular helps show the need for barring or capping attorney fee awards in establishment clause cases. The threat of an exorbitant attorney fee award in an establishment clause lawsuit often deters govermment entities from doing things that the courts might find to be constitutional, and in establishment clause cases that do go to trial, exorbitant fee awards heavily penalize government entities for innocently having guessed wrong about how the courts would rule. Two cases where the courts have come close to ruling particular evolution disclaimers to be constitutional are Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish(2000) and Selman v. Cobb County (now on remand in a federal district court). Only hypocrites like Ed "It's My Way or the Highway" Brayton -- who runs the "Dispatches from the Culture Wars" blog -- and other bloggers over on Panda's Thumb see nothing wrong with these exorbitant attorney fee awards in establishment clause cases.
BTW, the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the defendant in the OK case, misrepresented a motion made by the ACLU:
The ACLU had originally submitted a motion to the court requesting that its name be held in confidentiality so that the public and any jury would not know that it was behind the suit. The request became moot when the case went to trial without a jury.
Of course, it would have been impossible to hold ACLU's name in "confidentiality," especially considering that the ACLU was a plaintiff-in-name and not -- as in so many lawsuits -- an unnamed plaintiff-in-fact just providing legal representation for a mascot or mascots (and even then the ACLU's name could not be held in confidentiality). What the motion asked for was a prohibition on telling the jury about the ACLU's other lawsuits or activities.
Labels: Establishment clause