Friday, September 29, 2006

Public expression of religion

Today, the House passed H.R. 2679. This bill would bar citizens from recovering attorney's fees if they win a lawsuit against the government for violating their First Amendment Establishment Clause rights.

Currently, if you sue the government for a constitutional violation and are successful - if the court agrees that the government has acted unconstitutionally - the judge, at his or her discretion, may order the agency that violated the constitution to pay reasonable legal fees for the other side. This is mandated in Federal law under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. HR 2679 would leave that in place, but exempt only one type of lawsuit from that rule - lawsuits based on establishment clause grounds.
You can find more details on the bill at GovTrack.us. It now goes to the Senate (S 3696) where it is expected to pass.

Here's how the NJ Representatives voted:
New Jersey
Nay NJ-1 Andrews, Robert [D]
Aye NJ-2 LoBiondo, Frank [R]
Aye NJ-3 Saxton, H. [R]
Aye NJ-4 Smith, Christopher [R]
Aye NJ-5 Garrett, E. [R]
Nay NJ-6 Pallone, Frank [D]
Aye NJ-7 Ferguson, Michael [R]
Nay NJ-8 Pascrell, William [D]
Nay NJ-9 Rothman, Steven [D]
Nay NJ-10 Payne, Donald [D]
Aye NJ-11 Frelinghuysen, Rodney [R]
Nay NJ-12 Holt, Rush [D]

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