Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum believes appointing the right federal and local judges is more important than electing members of Congress or the President. In a forum last week, they explained why.
Activist judges have stopped children from saying the pledge of allegiance in their classrooms, stripped the Ten Commandments from displays in the public domain and kept religious symbolism out of the public eye. Christmas has become “winter holiday” and the Boy Scouts of America have faced numerous lawsuits for refusing to hire gay scout leaders.
At the Eagle Forum session, lawyers discussed the need for a stronger focus on activist judges and the role the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) plays in breaking down traditional American society through lawsuits.
Schlafly, who has been an ardent anti-pornography activist, began the session in celebration of the Supreme Court’s first anti-porn decision since the 1960s, which said individuals can receive criminal penalties for promoting child pornography.
“The disappointing thing is that the government thinks that whatever some judge says is the law of the land,” said Schlafly. “It’s unfortunate that people think that judges are the royalty of our era.”
Steve Aden of the Alliance Defense Fund kicked off the morning with criticism of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which he classified as creating a “whole new class of thought crimes.”
“This bill would outlaw hateful thoughts against the ACLU’s preferred class of victims”, said Aden, adding that the ACLU is only a “leading advocate for moral lawlessness.”
In recent years, the ACLU has litigated to uphold the rights of minors to receive abortions without parental consent and fought for legalizing prostitution and the “right” to distribute obscene material without penalty. Aden charged that if the ACLU had its way, “America’s cities and towns would become red light districts.”
Sarah Seitz, legal director for the Liberty Center for Law and Policy at the Liberty University School of Law, expanded on some of the ACLU’s recent and outrageous cases, including the Veterans’ Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act of 2007. That Act amends U.S. statutes in a way that fails to protect constitutional expression of religion by state and local officials and allows people to seek damages and attorney’s fees. Seitz said, the bill essentially mandates that “someone can claim they are merely offended by sight of cross or allege a religious infraction based on an offense.”
In Relands, California, there is a pending ACLU case regarding the placement of a small cross on the city logo. In another case, a plaintiff is seeking $325,000 in a racial profiling suit and a high school junior sued his school for $32,500 after he was scolded for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegience.
She said the ACLU is able to intimidate groups into doing what they want because of the fear of the high cost of litigation that the ACLU can bring. In these civil rights or discrimination cases, a fee shifting statute exists where the losing party must pay the winning party’s fees. Many of the towns and organizations ACLU targets are relatively small. They cannot fund millions of dollars in litigation, or risk the potential losses. ACLU, which is funded by huge liberal donations (even from some companies who fear it) has no fear of losing, especially in cases brought in liberal courts.
The fee shifting statute gives majorly unbalanced favor toward the ACLU and without solid, constitutionalist judges in place, they will continue winning cases that encourage the breakdown of traditional values and constitutional rights.
Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) made an appearance at the event to promote the Public Expression of Religion Act (PERA), which would eliminate the attorney’s fees problem and allow more flexibility for religious symbolism.
“We want to make sure there’s not encouragement for [the ACLU] to do that to cities and towns where, in many cases, are concerned they will stuck with a big legal bill whether they win or lose,” said Burton.
Burton said he is trying to move the bill through the House and Senate before the election. Burton mentioned that he would also be in favor of pushing federal cases to the states so that elected judges — who must face the electorate for re-election — decide more of them.
Seitz mentioned the Pledge Protection Act of 2008, which declare the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance constitutional. Stemming from a case several years ago, in which an atheist didn’t want his daughter subjected to saying “under God”, Seitz said the decision is pending in 9th circuit court now.
Peter Ferarra, of the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), and former Reagan and George H.W. Bush staffer, spoke about the Boys Scouts of America, who have received the brutal end of many of the ACLU cases because of their so-called “discrimination” against openly homosexual troop leaders.
ACRU acts as a counter organization to the ACLU and has filed briefs in every major Boy Scout case. Ferarra noted a victory they won in a 2000 New Jersey case (Boy Scouts v. Dale), which established that “Scouts have a freedom of expressive association and can support whatever values they think they should support.”
Ferarra urged the audience to do everything possible to prevent states from adopting anti-discrimination laws if they don’t already exist and said the judges are the most important factor in all of these cases.
“McCain has said the judges he wants to appoint are like Roberts and Alito and Obama has said Ginsberg and Souter so that issue is clearly framed,” Ferarra said of the upcoming election. “This is not year for people to be sending a message or walking off when you have this huge historic opportunity.”
And the people have a chance to make a huge difference. When President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, the public rose up and said no because they knew she was not prepared or experienced enough to have such expansive power over the future of America.
Mrs. Schlafly ended the session with a reminder that Congress has the power to decide what kinds of cases the courts hear and encouraged public discourse on judges whenever possible.
“We are going to take back this country from the ACLU…it might take 80 years to do it because it took them 80 years to tear down this country but we are going to do it,” Aden added.