ACLU Whistleblower

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 19, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: The American Civil Liberties Union is under attack from one of its own. A former attorney for the civil rights organization wants to bar judges from awarding attorneys' fees to the ACLU in cases brought to remove crosses or other religious symbols from the public sphere.

Joining us now is former ACLU attorney Rees Lloyd. Mr. Lloyd, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

You call the ACLU "the Taliban of liberal secularism" in America. Do you really want to compare this group to the Taliban?

REES LLOYD, FORMER ACLU ATTORNEY: I think, in their fanaticism, that it's an accurate description of what they've done. They've loosed themselves from any bounds of common sense in their litigation that's been going on across the country.

COLMES: Do you disagree with them entirely on everything they do?

LLOYD: Well, I don't disagree with them entirely on everything they do, but that's not the point of what're doing in the American Legion. And what we're doing in the American Legion is to say that, if these secular cleansing lawsuits are going to be brought, that they shouldn't stick the taxpayers with attorney fees when, in fact, they have none.

COLMES: I understand. Now, you're upset — go ahead.

LLOYD: I think it's also important to recognize the very, very dangerous precedent that was set when the American Civil Liberties Union, for the first time in jurisprudential history, sued a veterans memorial in California to remove a religious symbol, a cross.

It's never happened before. It's now a precedent. It's a precedent that can be easily exploited by any Islamist terrorist or sympathizer in our midst who could then go in and say they want attorneys' fees, just as the courts have been awarding...

COLMES: Well, I don't know how that gives aid and comfort to terrorists. But wasn't the issue here in this particular case, sir, that other religious symbols, for example, a Buddhist symbol, was denied? And if you're going to have a cross, don't you have to then permit other religious symbols at the same memorial, which was key to the ACLU's case here?

LLOYD: Alan, I think that what has to be recognized here is just a common sense position. That cross was simply two pipes put together by veterans on private land in 1934. It remained private land until the end of the Bill Clinton administration, when he incorporated it into the federal preserve, Mojave preserve.

COLMES: But the mistake they made...


COLMES: And, I mean, the government's supposed to be religion-neutral, is it not? And that is the key to the case. The government did not act neutral about religion here. Go ahead.

LLOYD: The key to the case is that this was put up by veterans to honor veterans from World War I on private land. And the simple act of transferring it to the government, by order of Bill Clinton, does not mean that the government is now endorsing any particular religion.

And the government, through Jerry Lewis, my representative in Congress, he got legislation to put it back on private land, where veterans would care for it. The ACLU went back to the court and said, "Oh, no, they're just evading your order, your honor. You have to destroy it." And of course, the federal judge says you cannot...


COLMES: OK. Once it becomes public land, does the government have a responsibility — say, OK, if you want to have a cross, fine, but we also have to let the Buddhists put their religious symbols. We have to let anybody else who's got a religious symbol. And it's got to be equal representation to all who wish to have their symbols there, so the government remains religion-neutral in a situation like this.

LLOYD: There was no evidence that anybody was ever barred from putting anything they wanted up there. And I'm sure they can. It's a rock outcrop 11 miles off the highway. You have to drive to it to be offended by it.

That is the fanaticism that we're faced with. And also the fact that the ACLU collected $63,000 to destroy that cross. And when they did it, they set a precedent that makes all 22 of our veterans cemeteries vulnerable, including the 9,000 crosses and stars of David that are at Normandy Beach.

MIKE GALLAGHER, GUEST CO-HOST: Mr. Lloyd, it's so refreshing and so encouraging to see somebody who was in the trenches with the ACLU, like you have been, realize what tyrants these guys are and how they do embrace judicial tyranny.

And as you pointed out, this cross controversy in the Mojave Desert, you literally and figuratively had to go looking for it, right? As you said, 11 miles off the road isn't bothering anybody. It's in the middle of the desert. Nobody cares, except the ACLU.

Why do these guys insist on hurting veterans and offending, you know, good, God-fearing Americans who just want to be left alone? Why?

LLOYD: Well, I believe, first of all, based upon my experience there, that there is a totalitarian impulse. This is about power. It's about making government through the judiciary.

It's also about great profits. We're talking about millions of dollars annually. I don't think it should be forgotten that, in driving the Boy Scouts, a real threat to America, out of Balboa Park in San Diego, that the ACLU ended up with $940,000 in attorney fees, taxpayer funds, when they have, in fact, no actually attorney fees.


LLOYD: I was an attorney there. I know how it works. They do it by staff or volunteer attorneys.

GALLAGHER: And it really is...

LLOYD: And now what they're doing...

GALLAGHER: Pardon me for interrupting, but it is a mercenary effort, right? I mean, because you're on to something big time with this. And that is that these guys are collecting thousands and thousands of dollars of fees. Is that their motivation, when they go out to the middle of the Mojave Desert to try to, you know, get a lone, solitary Roman cross destroyed? Do they just want the money?

LLOYD: Well, that's very much a part of it. It's a way to punish Americans and American taxpayers. "Do what we say, or you will pay."


LLOYD: Look at what happened in L.A. County, where to change the tiny cross on the seal, they threatened a lawsuit. L.A. County supervisors capitulated for fear that they would be stuck with attorney fees. And they're spending $1 million to change the seal.

In Redlands, California, the City Council reluctantly surrendered to the ACLU. They don't have the money to change their seal, so they're calling in the police and fire officers' badges and drilling holes through the cross...

GALLAGHER: Yes, putting a hole through it.

LLOYD: ... to satisfy the ACLU. That is fanaticism.

GALLAGHER: That is fanaticism. I mean, it's extremist in the most vivid way of the word. It's an extremist position to take.

LLOYD: I do want to make clear, Mike, this is not me. This is the American Legion that's making this fight. That's 2.7 million members and 15,000 posts.


LLOYD: And our national commander, Tom Bock, has said we will go to the Supreme Court. We will fight them as long and as hard as it takes to put an end to it. And the way to end it is to pass the Public Expression of Religion Act of 2639 that was sponsored by Representative Hostettler that would take away the power of judges...

GALLAGHER: Let's hope.

LLOYD: ... to award attorney fees only in establishment cause cases.

GALLAGHER: Let's hope that happens. Their motto, as you pointed out so eloquently — and I've read your work before — is that, if I'm offended, I'm injured. Isn't that the whole mantra of the ACLU?

LLOYD: Well, it's that, and it's also the notion, Mike, that I don't know any other area in American law where you can sue because you're merely offended...


LLOYD: And the courts have recognized cognizable injury, I'm offended at the sight of a cross or a menorah.

GALLAGHER: Good for you. Good for you, Mr. Lloyd.

COLMES: Thank you, sir. By the way, this is the same ACLU that fought to keep Rush Limbaugh's medical records private.

GALLAGHER: Oh, stop.

COLMES: So it does not take always what you would perceive as a leftist position or an anti-American position or whatever you want to call it.

GALLAGHER: They went out on a limb that time.

COLMES: They went out on a limb there?

Hey, Mr. Lloyd, thank you very much for being with us tonight. Appreciate you coming on our program.

LLOYD: Thank you very much for having me.

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