The ACLU’s 12 days of litigation

Robert Knight Senior Fellow, American Civil Rights Union
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Always imaginative, the ACLU’s elves are finding new ways to step on Christmas, which they seem to regard as about as important in America as, oh, churches.

This year, the liberal organization’s lawyers are playing off the traditional carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with an ACLU version, “The 12 Days of Religious Liberty.” It’s not a song, just a litany of religious cases.

Here’s their exquisitely multicultural explanation:

During what is often referred to as the holiday season, a variety of cultures and religions honor an equally diverse number of both religious and secular traditions. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Bodhi Day are just some of the religious holidays that are celebrated this time of year.

For the unenlightened, Bodhi Day, which is celebrated in early December, commemorates the night that Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) is said to have achieved enlightenment. In doing so, he left behind traditional, theocentric Hinduism and created an atheistic path to nirvana, where the ultimate goal is to lose all consciousness.

Heck, you can do that sitting through an ACLU discovery session or a Chicago Cubs after-game commentary. (Please note that this is not an editorial comment on Buddhism, which people in this free country have the right to embrace.)

The Twelve Days of Religious Liberty, which began on December 14, showcases various ACLU actions that are said to reflect the group’s allegiance to the First Amendment’s religious freedom guarantee. I concur that, so far, the cases appear to be roughly representative of what the ACLU has been up to.

On Day One, they recounted a 2002 case in Boston in which the ACLU defended a church that had run ads in the transit system — attacking Christmas. I’m not making this up.

On Day Two, they celebrated a 2008 lawsuit where the ACLU sued on behalf of a Muslim woman who refused to remove her head covering during a security check at the entrance to a traffic court.

On Day Three, they boasted of forcing a Texas school to abandon its dress code policy requiring boys to have short haircuts. Their clients were two Native American kids who wore long, braided hair. Well, okay. It’s the least we could do given how the U.S. government “helped” Indians become utterly dependent on bureaucrats until the gambling thing got going.

On Day Four, they recalled the ACLU of Iowa’s 2005 defense of two girls who wore pro-life (which the ACLU calls “anti-abortion”) T-shirts to school. In the press release, the ACLU reminded everyone that although the ACLU “staunchly defends the reproductive rights of women,” it has “a long track record of defending the rights of anti-abortion and conservative Christian groups.” Not in proportion to its pro-abortion work, of course, but even a blind pig can find an acorn now and then.

On Day Five, they touted a Texas case, Sossamon v. Texas, in which a prison inmate alleged that he was denied access to the prison chapel and wanted to sue the state for damages. The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed that the state had, by accepting federal funds, waived its immunity from private suits. On the surface, this sounds like a good example of the ACLU defending religious freedom. The devil, however, is in the details. The inmate had been confined to his cell as a disciplinary action, and the case arguably may have been more about going after the deep, deep pockets of taxpayers.

On Day Six, they reported on aiding a Colorado law student so she did not have to take the bar exam on a religious holiday. The Board of Bar Examiners had not actually rejected her request, but it did not answer as fast as she thought was reasonable, so the ACLU managed to get her another day. Well, good, and I think we know who will be a good candidate for the ACLU’s next hire.

Day Seven had not arrived by press time, so I can’t inform you about that item or the next five.

But the list probably won’t include the ACLU’s complaint filed on June 21, 2011 against the Colorado Department of Education and other parties over a school voucher system that aided parents at religious schools. The ACLU does not want any competition for government schools, even if all taxpayers, including those who send their children to private schools, are dunned.

There will be more, but I’m going to be too busy getting ready for Christmas to spend any more time on this.

In closing, this article is posted on a site that takes no tax money, so I’m going to say, without fear of the ACLU: Have a very merry Christmas!

Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union.