House passes two Pro-Family bills

Washington D.C. – In this, the final legislative week prior to October recess, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills that would positively impact Judeo-Christian family values.

Public Expression of Religion Act

Introduced by Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN), this bill would prevent groups from using the legal system to coerce state and local governments into removing references to religion in public places.  Specifically, the bill would prohibit the award of monetary damages and attorneys’ fees to prevailing parties in this type of case.

This legislation has become necessary due to the abuse, by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and similar organizations, of a law that was intended to help individual citizens bring suit against state officials who deprived them of their constitutional rights.  Passed in 1976, the Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Award Act leveled the financial playing field so that a citizen – who in most cases does not have the funds that are available to a public entity – can afford to bring his or her case before a court of law.  If that citizen wins the case, the losing party (the public entity) is required to pay for the attorney’s feels of both the plaintiff and the defendant.

Unfortunately, during the past decade the ACLU has twisted the meaning of that law by claiming that any public official who expresses religious beliefs or displays a memorial with religious imagery – like the crosses at Arlington National Cemetery or the Ten Commandments displayed in front of the Gibson County courthouse – is promoting “an establishment of religion” and therefore violating the constitutional rights of citizens.

Consequently, public officials in many municipalities, townships and villages, faced with the prospect of financial ruin as a result of the attorney’s fees provision, have given in to the demands of the ACLU even when it was highly probable that their cases would have prevailed if permitted to be heard in a court of law.

The Public Expression of Religion Act (PERA) eliminates the award of attorneys’  fees and makes injunction the only remedy available in establishment clause cases only.  It would thus allow such cases to have their day in court and restore the right of public entities to defend themselves by removing the financial threat used by the ACLU and other organizations.

In Ohio, Representatives voting for PERA were Steve Chabot (District 01), Jean Schmidt (02), Michael Turner (03), Michael Oxley (04), Paul Gilllmor (05), David Hobson (07), John Boehner (08), Patrick Tiberi (12), Steven LaTourette (14), Deborah Pryce (15), and  Ralph Regula (16).

Voting against PERA:  Marcy Kaptur (District 09), Kennis Kucinich (10), and Stephanie Tubbs Jones (11), and Tim Ryan (17).

Did Not Vote: Ted Strickland (District 06), Sherrod Brown (13), and Robert Ney (18).

Child Custody Protection Act

This very important bill would make it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion in another state, in order to avoid a state law requiring parental involvement in a minor’s abortion decision.

The Child Custody Protection Act passed the House by a vote of 264-153.

Ohio Representatives voting for the Child Custody Protection Act were Steve Chabot (District 01), Jean Schmidt (02), Michael Turner (03), Michael Oxley (04), Paul Gillmor (05), David Hobson (07), John Boehner (08), Patrick Tiberi (12), Steven LaTourette (14), Deborah Pryce (15), Ralph Regula (16), and Tim Ryan (17).

Voting against the bill:  Marcy Kaptur (09), Dennis Kucinich (10), and Stephanie Tubbs Jones (11).

Did not vote: Ted Strickland (06), Sherrod Brown (13), and Robert Ney (18).

Bills similar to PERA and the Child Custody Protection Act have been introduced in the Senate.