Skip navigation.

ACLU profits at taxpayer expense

I stumbled on this article that reveals something interesting about what might be driving our friends at the ACLU to sue everyone, their cities, and their dogs. I'm sure you're aware of the rash of lawsuits concerning removing historical documents and markers that happen to have some religious reference, or the lawsuits trying to remove scouts, God, Christmas, and anything "praise-worthy" or of "good-report" from our country. Well, they happen to be making a few bucks from us, the taxpayers, as they tally-up their wins.

Check out this article from World Net Daily:

A new online petition asks Congress to change a specific civil-rights statute in hopes of preventing the American Civil Liberties Union from collecting attorney fees from taxpayers of local governments the organization takes to court.

The effort – spearheaded by Craig McCarthy of CountZero.Org, a site dedicated to stemming judicial activism – seeks to change 42 U.S.C., Section 1988, of the United States Code. The statute now allows judges to award attorney fees to plaintiffs in civil-rights cases brought against local governments, thereby putting the taxpayers on the hook and oftentimes funneling public money to the ACLU. McCarthy wants the law changed so cases involving the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment would not apply...

When the ACLU takes a city to court claiming a Christmas display violates the Establishment Clause, for example, if the municipality loses, the city's taxpayers would not have to pay ACLU attorneys. Ending the financial incentive, McCarthy says, would cause the ACLU to decrease their anti-religion litigation.

Sign the petition, write your congressman, or sue the ACLU! Get our money back! So, our cities can build improved swimming pools with our money.

good for them

good for them


I am going to have to add something about this on my blog, this is pretty important.


If I understand correctly, the ACLU's attorney's are paid by the losing party only when the ACLU wins the suit. I hate to rain on this parade, but that seems downright reasonable to me. The loser should pay. That's exactly the way I would want it to be. What am I missing here?

What you are missing

The flaw in your argument is that when the ACLU brings suit against an entity, it should do so at it's own expense. If they feel that something needs to be challenged, that is what their organization is there for. If they want to enact change at any level, they shouldn't get paid for doing it by the entity that they are trying to change, because then the only reason they are going for the change to begin with is convuluted down into being for financial gain.


Hmmm... I think I have a (fairly obvious) alternate solution to this "problem".

If the objective is to keep the ACLU from making a profit, the most practical solution is to ask our legislators to cease to enact laws, policies, etc. that don't hold up in court. By taking this simple step, the ACLU would never win, and would therefore not make any money. Right? What's wrong with this solution?

the big bad aclu

you guys do realize that the (lds) church has teamed up with the aclu several times in efforts to protect religious freedom?

Fully Aware Mr. Presumptious

Sorry, I didn't know I had to be a Mormon to post here. I share this computer with a good friend of mine who happens to be a Mormon, and like to post an article here and there. I am fully aware that the LDS church (and some Christian churches) have teamed up with the aclu on a few occasions. However, as a conservative who happens to be a protestant, I find it somewhat offensive that you assume all "us [conservative] guys" from Provo must be LDS. Yet, as one who will look past your presumptious comment, I still don't appreciate the ACLU's gang-of-four-like "cultural revolution" on America's history and society. THE ACLU is treated like royalty by activist courts and judges. Read your history (Founding Fathers and their intentions for our country), buddy, and you will realize the grand abuses by ACLU and others who would use the courts to overstep its proper check, writing new law and dictating how the public "must" live. BUT, why must my tax dollars be used to pay them, as they pursue their intents to re-write our cultural heritage! I'll preach to you about the shortcomings of certain religious differences another day, but for today, I'll do what liberals do best; I'll cry foul! I am the victim of your assumptions! "You guys do realize..." Ha... Maybe, I should call the ACLU to help me sue? Boo hoo...

I'm all for the ACLU

I don't question the good the ACLU does in protecting our rights and liberties. As a matter of fact, I'm a big fan of what they do, in certain circumstances. Some of the times they like to make issues out of things that don't need to be made issues. Suing to get all religious historical documents and markers cleared out, just because they think it slights somebody is garbage to begin with, but then to have the loser pay the cost? Double injustice.

The ACLU makes plenty of money for what they do, they shouldn't be paid for it by the loser above and beyond what they have lost.


OK, I guess I'll try one more time...

The ACLU does not make laws, nor does it decide cases. When they win it is because the judge (not the ACLU) agrees that a particular policy conflicts with the law (often the Constitution). Therefore, if you want to starve the ACLU of funding there are three very obvious ways to do it:

1. Change the law.
2. Appoint judges who will ignore the law.
3. Stop making policies that are against the law.

I think #3 is the way to go. The people at like #1.

By the way, I joined the ACLU as a dues-paying member last year. The "war on terror" (you know, the one where the government has chosen to disregard the Constitution) has caused a huge increase in membership for the ACLU over the last three years. Which brings me back to my original thesis: When the government oversteps it bounds and enacts policy in violation of the law, the ACLU grows stronger. To weaken the ACLU, see #3 above.

Sorry, that was me

I keep forgetting to log in, and then I put my name in the subject line. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. :)

Let me try it this way then

Three Truths

  1. The ACLU provides a very valuable service to the citizens of the United States.
  2. Federal, State and Local governments provide very valuable services to those same citizens
  3. The nature of government and the nature of the ACLU seem to be at odds with each other quite often.

I agree with both #1 and #3 on your list Laurence. I think that there is a happy medium in between both points. There are a couple of examples where I think the ACLU goes overboard.

  • Trying to exploit the Establishment clause of the First Amendment to remove all regious/historical document, emblems, markers, etc..
  • Title IX comes to mind (NCAA rules that require the school to have equal men and women's athletic programs.
  • Playing on minor technicalities to get criminals absolved of their crimes

The last item could be argued that it serves the greater good in the protection of everybody's rights, but when obvious conviction get overturned because the ACLU goes back and looks at everything and finds a minor issue that wasn't done right it kinda bugs me.

Sometimes it seems that the ACLU takes on fights just because they want to take on a fight. The religous thing comes to mind. In this case I believe your option of #1 would be the best way to go here, but then they'd probably sue to overturn that too. Option #4 - The ACLU needs to become less sensitive over certain matters and stop suing just because they can.

Option #4

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with your response. I agree with nearly everything you have to say. Like you, I think the ACLU does much good, but is sometimes overly sensitive to the percieved slight. I agree with you that the best way to improve the service provided by the ACLU is through both my option #1 and your option #4.


I'll preach to you about the shortcomings of certain religious differences another day

What differences are those?

Alright! we've got a non-lds

Alright! we've got a non-lds guy who reads Provo Pulse! I'm excited. And I hope this isn't coming across sarcastically because I'm serious. It's exciting to have you here to provide us with the non-lds angle.

It would be nice if you two guys would create logins .... it's hard to tell all the Someone-without-a-login's apart.

Again, welcome. Stick around guys.

Satanic?! (rolling my eyes)

Which America would you rather live in?

1. An America corrupted by the ACLU: Where people are allowed to wear t-shirts with pictures of naked women on them.
2. An America unencumbered by the ACLU: Where people just "disappear" - detained without charges, without access to a lawyer, without a right to defend themselves in court, indefinitely.

Not a difficult choice for me.

Devilish agenda?

Whoa...someone needs to pop some prozac.

satanic half-truths, devilish agenda, simply evil, wolf in sheeps clothing: are you trying to tell us something, Mason?

I don't think these absurd adjectives do anything to advance your argument. In fact, they probably tell more about your religious extremism than anything else.

it's not a binary choice

Let's not think so small that we see the ACLU as our only means of protecting our civil liberties. Read my other post here. Don't you think this would be a much better solution?

The problem with the two options you present is that they both represent a lose of the America that was originally created by our founding fathers. One represents losing to totalitarianism while the other to anarchy and atheism. It doesn't or at least shouldn't have to be this way.

nice personal attack ... woul

nice personal attack ... would you care to explain how the ACLU does not fit the discription I've given it?

Also, if you haven't already, read my other post here.

Your Proposal

If I understand correctly, you are proposing that a new organization be created - one which defends civil liberties only when that defense does not interfere with moral imperatives. Did I understand you correctly?

If so, than I have these thoughts on the subject:

It agree that the ACLU can be improved upon. See dJake's post and my agreement with his proposal that the ACLU should be less sensitive to trivial religious icons and such.

However, I don't believe that your proposal (excluding certain nebulous moral and religious subjects from consideration) would be an improvement. First, because it isn't clear to me why there needs to be such an exclusion. Second, because I don't know who would decide which civil liberties are fair game and which are not. Who do you think should decide? I would find it difficult to trust anyone to make that decision. Do you trust the folks at to defend the civil rights of minorities in America? Before answering, you might want to take a look at their bookstore. Here are some of my favorites:

Unmasking Mormonism
You've probably seen their TV or magazine ads. They distribute family-friendly literature and apparently live good lives. But are Mormons really Christians? What do they really believe about the nature of God and the nature of man and the nature of Christ? Are their teachings compatible with biblical Christianity? John Walker is well-qualified to answer these and other questions concerning Mormonism, for he himself is a former fourth-generation Mormon and has participated in rituals at the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City. He has served in the Church of Latter-Day Saints as a deacon, a teacher and a priest. In due time, he left the Mormon church and in 1976 received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He is now president of Watchman Fellowship.

Here's another:

Answering The Cults
Dr. D. James Kennedy , James Walker, James White, John Whaley, Lorri MacGregor, Greg Branch, and Robert Morley share information on Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam and the Truth of Jesus Christ.

Yep, you can trust these guys to uphold the civil rights of religious minorities! Absolutely!

Here's one more for the road:

The Gospel According To Joseph Smith
Are Mormons Christians? Members of the Mormon Church often tell their Christian friends that they are. The television and radio ads produced by the Church of the Latter-day Saints, or Mormonism, are very professional, they appeal to family values, they seem to esteem decency and hold to many of the same virtues that Christians do. Well, we certainly need to commend good character and Biblical morals, whenever we encounter them. However, to consider Mormonism part of traditional Biblical Christianity is far from accurate....

Dare I say it?... The message these anti-ACLU guys is spreading almost seems... Satanic! ;)

I think I'm understanding you

I think I'm understanding you better, and you've got a point. You see ambiguity in any approach (to the defense of civil liberties) which doesn't consistently interpret the laws of our country as liberally (as in liberty, not left-wing) as possible with regard for the rights of minority groups, be they minorities due to their sexual orientation, race, or the choices they make regarding their "reproductive rights." Maybe I don't actually mean "minority groups" as much as both minority groups and fringe groups (which I suppose are also minority groups.)

Anyway, if I'm understanding you, you think it's more dangerous to allow for any minority group to have even the slightest limit to the exercise of their member's rights than you do for our society's "circle of inclusion" to be expanded to include--as equals--all of these groups, and in the process do away with much of our fundamental basis for judging what is and is not acceptable behavior.

To give an example of what I'm talking about, do you see denying gay persons' the ability to legally marry as being dangerous because there could come a time when the tables are turned, and the "good guys" (i.e. upstanding members of Christ's church) are on the far fringe relative to the rest of our society and therefore start having their rights infringed upon because there isn't a legal precident of liberally granting individuals--even extreme ones--as many rights as possible?

Me explico? Am I understanding you?

I'm going to go ahead and assume that I am and try to explain how, even given this scenario, I still think the vigorous "defense" of our civil liberties as performed by the ACLU is much more dangerous.

I don't see the ACLU as truly pushing for all groups to have free exercise of as many of their civil liberties as possible--which, btw, I do actually see as a bad thing, but it's too much to go in to at the moment--what I see them doing is pushing for maximum civil liberties for secular groups such as the North American Man/Boy Love Association (more here) while at the same time pushing to curb the civil liberties of mainstream religious groups. And they're conveniently doing it all in the name of "civil liberties" and appealing to people like yourself, Laurence, using the argument I laid out above.

But the real truth is that they are already doing the very thing you're worried about happening if there were no ACLU--they're expanding the rights of extreme secular groups while curbing the rights of America's mainstream religious groups.

Am I making sense here?

Also, Laurence, could you elaborate on what why you say:

However, I don't believe that your proposal (excluding certain nebulous moral and religious subjects from consideration) would be an improvement. First, because it isn't clear to me why there needs to be such an exclusion.

I'm not understanding why you think this.