House Passes Unprecedented Restrictions on Efforts to Uphold Civil Rights, Civil Liberties

The House of Representatives today passed H.R. 2679, legislation that would make it harder for Americans to challenge religious coercion and interference by government entities. The legislation would limit attorneys’ fees and damages that could be awarded to plaintiffs who prove that their rights to be free of government interference in religion had been violated.

People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas issued the following statement:

“Every American is free to practice his own religion, and every American has the right to resist government interference with our precious religious liberty. This bill is an underhanded attempt to strip Americans of the protections guaranteed by the Constitution. It’s another example of Congress undermining the system of checks and balances laid out by our nation’s founders.

“This bill is aimed squarely at plaintiffs who win their cases, whose rights have been violated, and claims have been upheld by federal courts. In other words, the more flagrant the violation of rights, the more this bill will punish the victim.

“Ensuring that there are adequate remedies for violations of our civil rights and civil liberties is crucial to protecting our freedoms. We’ve seen too many times that rights which are not supported by enforcement mechanisms are nothing more than empty promises.”

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