Update: Public Expression of Religion Act

I came across some more information about the Public Expression of Religion Act of 2005 that I reported on last week. The good folks at Dispatches from the Culture Wars tell us more:

[I]t isn’t true that the ACLU received those amounts in those cases. That may have been the amount that was awarded to the plaintiff (because they won the case, remember), but that’s not what the ACLU actually got.

Out of such awards first has to come all of the costs of the litigation, which can be very high depending on how long the case dragged on, how many depositions were taken, and so forth. Then in most cases, the bulk of the fees will go not to the ACLU but to the private law firm that handled the case. In most such cases, the ACLU will end up with only a small portion in legal fees, but even then they can only recover the fees for the billable hours their attorneys actually put in on the case. So the rewards merely cover the expense of the trial. It’s hardly a profitable thing to do.

Only actual attorneys fees go to the attorneys, and nobody is skimming money off the top for fees not earned. The Public Expression of Religion Act is just a disingenuous way of getting state and local governments off cheap when they violate our constitutional rights.

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