Thursday, February 9, 2012

You pray, you pay

From the Huffington Post:


$173,000 In Fees Sought In Rhode Island Prayer Banner Case


'Nice little school ya got there. Shame if something happened to it'
Jessica's "volunteer attorneys" demand a nice payday-- $173,000-- to be coughed-up by the recently-prayer-liberated Cranston school kids. No bad for cut-n'-paste work the ACLU's been doing for half a century. The well-paid pro-bono attorneys have threatened the school with heavier fees if the school appeals the ruling. 



01/31/12
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Lawyers for the 16-year-old Rhode Island atheist who sued over a prayer banner displayed at a public high school are asking a court to order the city of Cranston to pay $173,000 in attorneys' fees.
The request was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Providence by lawyers retained by the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The lawyers sued Cranston and its school committee on behalf of Jessica Ahlquist, a junior at Cranston High School West.
Earlier this month, a judge ordered the removal of the banner. The school committee has not decided whether to appeal the ruling.
The ACLU says Ahlquist is entitled to $25 in damages. The group also says the $173,000 request does not cover all the time spent on the case.
Of course, the plaintiff's legal team originally called themselves "volunteer attorneys" in their public statements. The ACLU is apparently as creative with the term "volunteer" as it is with the term "Free Exercise of Religion". They can pose as noble volunteers in the press, and still get a nice payday at the expense of the school kids when their censorship prevails. It's like Vegas, but better odds. And now the barristers are threatening the school with ruinous legal fees if the school appeals.

The school district and town will have to fork out the money-- taxes the parents of Cranston paid to educate their kids-- in addition to the money for the school's own legal bills.

But the kids, and their parents and neighbors, get a bit of an education as a bonus. They've learned the definition of "shakedown", and they get a nice warning not to try to stand up for freedom of religion.

Lesson one:

You pray, you pay.

The tutors for that lesson just sent the school a bill for $173,000. Actually, $173,033.60.

The court-ordered tarp covering the prayer mural
 in the Cranston West High School auditorium.

25 comments:

  1. Michael,

    I admire your dancing style. You should become a prize fighter. Your ducking and weaving is amazing, with your many different opinions.

    You've stated:

    That you thought the school board was going to lose its defense and the federal court judge would order the mural to be taken down.

    The federal court judge got his judgement wrong, for various constitutional reasons.

    And regardless, the majority of the American population want the mural to be left there, so it shouldn't have gone to court anyway.

    The lawyers for the plaintiff would be asking for a million dollars plus in damages (it's apparently $25 plus legal fees; considerable, but nowhere near $1,000,000).


    Anyway, the lawyers for the school board didn't seem to have advised the school board appropriately. It would have been wiser to have admitted defeat before the trial. Not being able to display a prayer mural in a public school doesn't affect anyone's freedom to religion in the slightest.

    Going into paroxysms of paranoia might be emotionally satisfying, but your freedom to worship aren't impinged upon at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Anyway, the lawyers for the school board didn't seem to have advised the school board appropriately."

      It's worse than that. The lawyers for the school board advised that the suit was risky and that if the school board decided to fight it they would probably lose and would have to pay the legal fees of the plaintiffs.

      The school board chose to ignore their own lawyers.

      Delete
    2. Bachfiend, I think you're misrepresenting Dr. Egnor's argument.

      "The federal court judge got his judgement wrong, for various constitutional reasons.

      And regardless, the majority of the American population want the mural to be left there, so it shouldn't have gone to court anyway."

      Dr. Egnor isn't saying that the mural should be left because the American people want it, and "regardless of the Constitution." The Constitution is of utmost importance and nothing is "regardless" of it. But the Constitution doesn't say what you really, really wish it did.

      TRISH

      Delete
    3. "But the Constitution doesn't say what you really, really wish it did."

      It does. You just want to stick your head in the sand and pretend it doesn't.

      Delete
  2. A tax revolt is in order.
    RI & Cranston should send the bill to Washington, and tell them the regional taxes will be paid after they have handled that fee.
    Send the message that Rhode Island is not represented in a democratic fashion in the ruling body of the land (the Supreme Court) and that until the people of Rhode Island is allowed an elected seat on that bench, or the governance is returned to an elected body with a representative of that state elected - RI will not be paying taxes.
    No representation, no tax money.
    Watch the other States react and join in.
    Sound familiar?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Crusader, it sounds like the crap you pedal almost every day. You’ve done little but encourage the citizens of RI to break the law and abandon common decency, first by encouraging them to maintain the illegal banner, then by suggesting an organized a campaign of harassment and intimidation against a high school girl, and now by advocating a tax revolt.

      Don’t you have anything in Canada you can fuck-up?

      -KW

      Delete
    2. CrusadeRex,

      That's crazy. The Supreme Court has 9 justices. There are 50 states. It's impossible for each state to have a representative on the Supreme Court.

      And anyway, the states already have a say on the composition of the Supreme Court (and also the federal judges). The President of the United States nominates the judges, and the Senate, directly elected by all the voters in each state, holds hearings and confirms or rejects the nominations.

      An indirect say, and a diluted one, but still a say.

      Delete
    3. Bach,
      "That's crazy."
      The whole situation is.
      "The Supreme Court has 9 justices. There are 50 states."
      Sure. That is why Judges should not rule by fiat. But if there is to be an oligarchy of The Bench - then RI and ALL the 50 states deserve a seat at the table.
      Maybe they need 50 ELECTED Justices for a nation 50 states and 300+ Million?
      Or maybe they should revert to Republic under such odious threats to their existence as this nefarious 'prayer banner' of doom. You know...let the ELECTED government decide if this is matter of tradition and culture, or the constitutional defence of a victim group or oppressed minority, and not this Kafkaesque nonsen$e we see now.

      "And anyway, the states already have a say on the composition of the Supreme Court (and also the federal judges). "
      I am not referring to the states as entities, but to the people. If their very laws of expression are to be ruled over by Judges, then the citizens of a state or region should be able to vote for them, n'est-ce pas?

      Unelected officials enforcing an oppressive minority agenda by use of a charter should not happen at all. Effective republic is supposed to balance the tyranny of the mob with minority rule. This current situation is unbalanced - hence the controversy, anger, and general feeling of disenfranchisement.

      "The President of the United States nominates the judges, and the Senate, directly elected by all the voters in each state, holds hearings and confirms or rejects the nominations."
      That is a totalitarian style stretch, don't you think? A single man the voice of ALL the states and people? No. That is absolutism: "L'√Čtat, c'est moi!"
      What about the Governors, Mayors, Senators, and Congressmen? What about the PEOPLE.

      "An indirect say, and a diluted one, but still a say."
      A homeopathic say, perhaps. But political placebo is not what I am talking about.

      Delete
    4. "That is a totalitarian style stretch, don't you think? A single man the voice of ALL the states and people? No. That is absolutism: "L'√Čtat, c'est moi!"
      What about the Governors, Mayors, Senators, and Congressmen? What about the PEOPLE.
      "

      You do realize that Senators are involved in the process of selecting justices for the Supreme Court and all of the other positions in the Federal judiciary, right? So when you say "what about the Senators?" the answer is "they have to confirm the nominees and if they think they are unqualified, then they can vote against them."

      Delete
    5. Yes. Sure. What of it?

      "they have to confirm the nominees and if they think they are unqualified, then they can vote against them."
      Again, political placebo is not what I am suggesting.
      I am suggesting that if a person is in the position to DEFINE the charter rights of a Republic - they (that person) should be ELECTED by the CITIZENS of that Republic. Seems simple enough to me.
      This 9 judges rule the land stuff is Oligarchy, not republic.
      Look, my problem is not with HOW the court ruled (I admit, I don't like it), but that a FEDERAL court of an unelected branch was invoked and DID rule. I object to what I see as the ABUSE of that legal system.


      In a democracy of any sort VOTING and practical necessity are what should determine such shifts in course - NOT a court.
      That's how I see it.

      Delete
    6. "In a democracy of any sort VOTING and practical necessity are what should determine such shifts in course - NOT a court."

      How do you propose that laws should be interpreted? By majority vote? Doesn't that eviscerate the concept of rights as anything other than "what the majority thinks?

      The U.S. Constitution has set some issues beyond the normal legislative process by enshrining them as rights under its auspices. The Constitution also establishes a judiciary selected by the elected branches of government which interprets those rights. The Constitution also establishes a process whereby its own text can be changed, although it makes it much more difficult than a mere majority vote.

      Most U.S. state constitutions are amenable to amendment by majority vote. Consequently the "rights" they protect are meaningless as anything other than the will of the majority. Do you propose that the U.S. Constitution should be altered to do the same?

      Delete
    7. "How do you propose that laws should be interpreted? By majority vote?"
      We are discussing central Charter rights here.
      This is not a discussion about criminal law, or civic bylaws is it?
      We are discussing the foundational rights those laws must bend to and accommodate; that the law must enshrine and protect.

      "By majority vote?"
      No. Not at all.


      "Doesn't that eviscerate the concept of rights as anything other than "what the majority thinks?"
      No. You have misunderstood my position entirely.
      I am not for mob rule.

      "The U.S. Constitution has set some issues beyond the normal legislative [...] although it makes it much more difficult than a mere majority vote."
      Sure.

      "Most U.S. state constitutions are amenable to amendment by majority vote. "
      Fascinating. I was unaware of that stat.
      Another division/balance between the Statist and Federalist stance?

      "Consequently the "rights" they protect are meaningless as anything other than the will of the majority."
      So these State constitutions are useless and should be disregarded? That seems to be what you infer here.
      I think that there are more than a few minds that would disagree on this matter. I was under the impression the State Constitutions were very important to the rule of law in those lands.

      "Do you propose that the U.S. Constitution should be altered to do the same?"
      I propose NOTHING with regards to Constitutional Amendments. At least not at this point.
      I don't know enough about it, or have enough invested to even give that a shot currently.
      I AM suggesting that the American Constitution should not be a rag that is dragged through high-school personality conflicts, as in this specific 'case'.
      I am suggesting this frequent use of Charter right protection law is an abuse of the system in order to further the aims of political activists.
      That exercise/abuse of power is, by precedent, altering the balance of power.
      This imbalance begins to infringe on the lives of normal people when it interferes with war memorials, cemeteries, holiday displays, and school politics.
      I am further suggesting that imbalance MUST be addressed by and with the consensus of the PEOPLE.

      Delete
    8. "So these State constitutions are useless and should be disregarded? That seems to be what you infer here."

      They shouldn't be disregarded, but they aren't anything more significant than ordinary legislation.

      "I think that there are more than a few minds that would disagree on this matter. I was under the impression the State Constitutions were very important to the rule of law in those lands."

      They are as important as any other statute. But no more so. Because they can be altered just as easily as any other statute.

      "I propose NOTHING with regards to Constitutional Amendments. At least not at this point."

      Actually, it seems you are.

      "I AM suggesting that the American Constitution should not be a rag that is dragged through high-school personality conflicts, as in this specific 'case'."

      It's not. Your amateur psychoanalysis of a person you have never met doesn't transform this into a "high-school personality conflict". A Constitutional issue was raised. If it weren't the Court would have declined jurisdiction.

      "I am suggesting this frequent use of Charter right protection law is an abuse of the system in order to further the aims of political activists."

      So have said all of those opposing all forms of civil rights litigation. They have all been wrong.

      "This imbalance begins to infringe on the lives of normal people when it interferes with war memorials, cemeteries, holiday displays, and school politics."

      It doesn't interfere with the lives of normal people at all. It merely prevents the government from becoming entangled in religion.

      "I am further suggesting that imbalance MUST be addressed by and with the consensus of the PEOPLE."

      So you are suggesting the Constitution should be amended.

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Or...
    How about collecting $25 from all the folks in Cranston who stood against this lawsuit. Maybe from the whole state, counties about, or even online?
    Hell, I'd shoot them $25 and know 10 or 15 more that would too.
    Then with that cash a the org could buy a PRIVATE plot, but open to the public and near the school, could be purchased and a memorial with the prayer engraved on it could be erected.
    Maybe even the original banner could be placed in it, inside a time capsule?
    A historic memorial that would both immortalize the prayer for all the students present and future to see; and that would also commemorate the reasoning of the Justice and the deliberate will of the people of Rhode Island to continue their traditions REGARDLESS of legal caveat. With the right fundraising, they could spend exactly $173,000 on the memorial... a message of sorts.
    I am sure this kind of judicial lunacy will not be tolerated by the American people... and this kind of thing would be a monument to the courage of the folks who stood up to the censors. It would also be very cool to see them open it up and place the banner back where it belongs, when those sensible days arrive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Maybe even the original banner could be placed in it, inside a time capsule?
      A historic memorial that would both immortalize the prayer for all the students present and future to see; and that would also commemorate the reasoning of the Justice and the deliberate will of the people of Rhode Island to continue their traditions REGARDLESS of legal caveat. With the right fundraising, they could spend exactly $173,000 on the memorial... a message of sorts.
      "

      Gee, one might think that if the school board had listened to the city lawyers who advised them that the case was not winnable and they would have to pay the plaintiff's legal fees if they lost that they might have done this in the first place and saved themselves a lot of money and embarrassment.

      Delete
  5. Anon,
    "..they might have done this in the first place and saved themselves a lot of money and embarrassment."


    Embarrassment?
    The adults in Cranston are concerned disenfranchisement and censorship of expression, not being embarrassed. To give up before the fight is not exactly monumental material.

    The people of Cranston stood up to a challenge against their traditions, and lost in the courts.
    They won by a massive margin, however, in the courts of public opinion.
    The monument I have suggested would commemorate that struggle and the costs and sacrifices involved while preserving the words of the controversial 'prayer banner' for students who wish to see and recite it.
    I imagine it would become a meeting place for the kids and rallying ground for expression and protest.
    Could be a good thing.
    A 'people's corner' in Cranston.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The adults in Cranston are concerned disenfranchisement and censorship of expression, not being embarrassed."

      They are being embarrassed. They were told they would lose, and they look like wasteful fools now because they knew this would cost them money that would have been better spent educating children rather than fighting a fight that was unwinnable.

      "They won by a massive margin, however, in the courts of public opinion."

      Outside the echo chamber you seem to live in, not really. Switch the channel away from Fox news one of these days and you might see that the revival atmosphere of the board meetings is not going over so well.

      Delete
  6. "They are being embarrassed. "
    Again, that is not an adult focus.

    "They were told they would lose, rather than fighting a fight that was unwinnable."
    Sure. They were TOLD. That'll learn em good.

    "and they look like wasteful fools now because they knew this would cost them money that would have been better spent educating children..."
    Oh, I think there were a lot more folks than the just the kids who got educated by this farce.
    Maybe the ACLU will donate the funds back as a gesture of good faith?

    "....and they look like wasteful fools..."
    To you and your fellow travellers, who see politics and law as a tool for 'efficiency'.
    They look like disenfranchised voters to me and those of my perspective who see politics and law as tools for the PEOPLE - not the reverse.

    "...because they knew this would cost them money that would have been better spent educating children"
    It SHOULD be spent educating the kids, not taken from them by political activists in the ACLU. If the ACLU drops their costs, or donates the funds the problem of would be solved.

    "Outside the echo chamber you seem to live in, not really."
    As opposed to your Star Chamber?
    No, my tinpot totalitarian pal, I am - in fact - one of the majority, and I am one of the cultural majority. You are the 'oppressed' minority.
    Did you forget?

    "Switch the channel away from Fox news one of these days and you might see that the revival atmosphere of the board meetings is not going over so well."
    FoxNews? What is it about that populist TV station that upsets the lefty-elitist type Americans so much, Anon?
    It's like the 'Tea party' of TV stations! All the normal working folks seem to love it.
    So far as I can tell, it has the best ratings by a zillion to one...and these loony-lefties go NUTS.
    What is the connection between public opinion and FoxNews that leaves the radicals SO upset?

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Sure. They were TOLD. That'll learn em good."

    They were told by their own lawyers that they would lose. They were turned down by one advocacy group that they went to for help on the grounds that the case was unwinnable.

    "Oh, I think there were a lot more folks than the just the kids who got educated by this farce."

    Anyone who didn't understand the law in this area prior to this case was sticking their head in the sand. The outcome here was never really in doubt. The lesson here is that fighting an unwinnable battle is stupid and costly.

    "Maybe the ACLU will donate the funds back as a gesture of good faith?"

    The ACLU has already reduced their fees for purposes of the submission. The advocacy group that represented the school submitted a claim in a similar case in California for $1.2 million.

    "To you and your fellow travellers, who see politics and law as a tool for 'efficiency'."

    Their job is to educate children. Not promote religion.

    "They look like disenfranchised voters to me and those of my perspective who see politics and law as tools for the PEOPLE - not the reverse."

    In almost every case in which a school board has taken a stand like this and cost their district money fighting unwinnable religious battles the board members who promoted the fight get voted out in short order. I suspect that pattern will be repeated here.

    "It SHOULD be spent educating the kids, not taken from them by political activists in the ACLU. If the ACLU drops their costs, or donates the funds the problem of would be solved."

    The ACLU has already considerably reduced its fees. The school board could have avoided this entirely by following the advice of the Cranston city lawyers and following the law to begin with.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It is a real joy to read your extremely well thought out and expressed comments CrusadeREX, and also to compare them to the ever dwindling logic and desperation of your detractors. Great job! - LE

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, LE.
      It just seems common sense to me.

      Delete
  9. "FoxNews? What is it about that populist TV station that upsets the lefty-elitist type Americans so much, Anon?
    It's like the 'Tea party' of TV stations! All the normal working folks seem to love it.
    So far as I can tell, it has the best ratings by a zillion to one...and these loony-lefties go NUTS.
    What is the connection between public opinion and FoxNews that leaves the radicals SO upset?"

    It isnt just these 'lefty-elitists', 'loony-lefties' or 'radicals' who despise the network. Whoever they might be..

    Its because they have an obvious agenda in their reporting, owned by conservative Rupert Murdoch, yet they try to come off as a legitimate news station. Didnt they come up with the tagline "Fair and Balanced" not long after lots of criticism of them being just the opposite?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. AH!
      That says it all.
      Thanks Mulder. I appreciate your honest response.
      If I get this right, you folks see Fox the same way as the neo-con guys see all of the Soros networks and various MSM organs.
      'The other side' etc.
      But Mulder if you believe in a fair press, how on earth do you find yourself arguing against the TOOTH FAIRY, let alone existentialism, super-nature, or a Prime Mover?
      Where is your scepticism for CNN and MSNBC?
      I hope it is just as healthy!

      Think about it, Mulder.
      EVERY news network has a 'political' slant, every single one of them attempts to portray itself as neutral (which we ALL know is BS), and every one of them is in competition for a 'market share' of viewers.
      FoxNews is no different than the rest...except that it has an audience of some size.
      Some spin left, some spin right.

      The biggest difference I see with Fox, as an outsider, is that the journalists and reporters seem to be allowed more flexibility in reporting than most...say NBC.
      The theatrics and flair are very similar to CNN, IMO. I think Fox may just have better talent and some very pretty women hosts.
      Both networks come of as centralist to me. CNN maybe a little left, Fox maybe a little right due to their 'shows' like Cooper and Hannity.

      "It isnt just these 'lefty-elitists', 'loony-lefties' or 'radicals' who despise the network. Whoever they might be.."
      The hard left.
      It is generally the hard leftist American that I hear complain about Fox news. Just as most of the Americans I know who religiously listen to 'talk radio' are right wing, or socially conservative types. Some of them pretty extreme, in my view.
      Most people I mix with just don't give a damn one way or the other about talking heads - and that apathy is an international approach, not isolated to this continent.
      Most people do NOT trust ANY MSM station. They have not for years, and in some cases DECADES. They sift the media for facts from the lies and spin.

      Delete
    2. Heh, well i'm not getting into a discussion about existentialism, tooth fairies and all that! Because i'm still pissed at her for shorting me some money back in '75.

      I dont have cable TV anymore. Cut it almost 2 years ago. And i dont miss it.
      I knew you were hoping for an answer like mine, Rex. I AM smart enough to realize many news stations are slanted one way or another, to an extent...

      But consider this:
      In 2003 a journalist charged she was pressured by Fox and their lawyers to air what she KNEW to be false information. She lost the case - the ruling basically declared it's technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.

      Thats just one instance...Isnt Fox banned in Canada for mainly that reason? Because they actually have standards that you cant lie to the people on broadcast news?

      Delete