Violating the constitution is costly

Time and time again school boards (usually in the south) will vote to keep some religious relic alive. Whether it be the ability to lead students in prayer or keeping a pledge to God alive in a school oath, heavily Christian school boards are all too often attempting to weasel their particular cultural religion into the classroom. And, of course, the ACLU will come along and say, “Hey, that’s stupid. Knock it off or we’ll sue – and you know we’ll win.” And, of course, all too often the school will hold its ground with the backing of voters and parents who don’t understand the constitution. And once the ACLU sues and wins, there is a great financial burden placed upon the districts:

These costs can be considerable. In McCreary and Pulaski counties in Kentucky, someone got the bright idea to post the Commandments at the local courthouses back in 1999. The ACLU warned officials that they were going to get sued. County officials refused to listen (and all the voters said, “Amen!”). The ACLU sued, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the counties lost.

The case has dragged on, and now these counties have been handed a bill for $456,881 to pay the ACLU’s legal costs. The insurance provider doesn’t cover expenses like this, so what to do? Well, McCreary County – a poverty-stricken rural community of about 17,000 residents – has been reduced to begging. The McCreary County Record reported that the county has set up an account at a local bank for donations. Judge-Executive Doug Stephens was excited because a $100 check arrived the other day. (Only $456,781 to go!)

I know these people think it’s okay to force their religion onto others, using public money to promote whatever little god happens to be fashionable right now in human history – in fact, I’m sure they think it’s downright righteous – but they have to know they’ll lose. I mean, yes, the U.S. education system isn’t very good, and yes, it’s at its worst in the south, but I honestly doubt these people are so stupid as to believe they’ll win. No, there’s something that’s fooling them:

Meanwhile, [Board member J.B.] Buckland said he and Superintendent Terry Arbogast had consulted attorneys at the Liberty Counsel. The conservative Christian legal group will represent the school board pro bono if the district faces a legal battle.

Short of calling these people outright stupid – I do not believe that they are – this is the best answer I can muster for why they would bother picking this fight. They can only be hoping against hope that they win (if they even believe that) and have no fees to pay, but it’s just so silly. There are millions of Americans who care whether or not their money gets spent endorsing religion. (If the money was being used to endorse Islam or atheism, there would be several hundred more million who cared.) There will always be a fight to first uphold pretty basic constitutional standards and second (though I think it should be first) to make sure religion stays at bay and in the churches and synagogues. I know it’s suppose to be some great thing that Jesus basically committed suicide, but these people aren’t Jesus. There’s no need to financially crucify themselves.