S 3696 has 18 co-sponsors
One reference currently says that S 3696 has only 5 co-sponsors. This reference's list of co-sponsors notes, "Cosponsorship information sometimes is out of date." Well, duh. All of the 13 co-sponsors added in September are missing.
The House version of the bill, HR 2679, has already passed the House by the comfortable margin of 244-173. HR 2679 had only 66 sponsors when it passed, a relatively small fraction of the number of yes votes received, so I think there is hope for S 3696.
Some people were saying just a short time ago that these bills didn't have a chance.
As I have said many times, I do not consider these bills to be ideal. For example, I think that a cap on fee awards for both establishment clause and free-exercise clause lawsuits is a much better idea than a ban on fee awards in just establishment clause lawsuits. But I consider these bills to be much better than nothing. If these bills are enacted into law, the "Dover trap" nightmare will be over.
Also, legislators and school board members need to be informed that it is possible for them to win "monkey" trials concerning criticisms of Darwinism in official public-school curricula. For example, the Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish evolution disclaimer case came within a single vote of being granted an en banc (full court) appeals court rehearing and within a single vote of being accepted for review by the Supreme Court, and there is a good chance that the Selman v. Cobb County textbook sticker case will eventually be decided in favor of the school board.
In opposing these bills, Ed "It's My Way or the Highway" Brayton has been arguing that fundy organizations also benefit from fee-shifting: "There have been lots of cases where conservative Christian legal groups have sued the government for violating the constitution, won, and been reimbursed for expenses just like the ACLU." However, the fundies' lawsuits are normally based on the free-exercise clause (and maybe also the free speech clause) and not on the establishment clause -- I couldn't imagine the fundies suing the government for endorsing Christianity. And if the fee awards in establishment clause cases are banned, then who is going to lead a campaign to get revenge on the fundies by getting the fee awards banned in free-exercise cases too? The ACLU? The Americans United for Separation of Church and State? Even the atheists have benefited from the free exercise clause -- the courts have held that atheism is a "religion" for purposes of interpreting constitutional protections.
Labels: Attorney fee awards