Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bosma: Give Me Christian Prayer Or Give Me Death

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) announced today that he will fight by “all legal means” a federal district court order that the House of Representatives must confine its daily prayers to non-sectarian messages. “We will find a way to have prayer within the order in one fashion or another,” Bosma told the Indianapolis Star.

Bosma will take his challenge all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if that’s what it takes. Procedurally, the Speaker, through Attorney General Steve Carter’s office, will ask Judge David Hamilton to reconsider his earlier ruling against sectarian prayers and, if necessary, appeal the decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeal will not be resolved before the legislature reconvenes on January 4, 2006, and Bosma appeared to rule out defying Judge Hamilton’s order. “I’ve taken an oath to uphold the constitution and laws of this state and the United States 11 times, 10 as an elected official and one as a lawyer,” Bosma said. “Direct defiance of a federal judge’s order I don’t think would be a respectful means of an elected official showing that we are a nation of laws and not of men.”

Bosma’s decision to appeal the order, however, makes it clear just how much he is using this issue to play to the religious right for political purposes. Judge Hamilton’s order made it clear that the House was free to hold daily prayers at the beginning of each of its business days. Hamilton said, as the Star article points out, while people are free to pray as they wish in their places of worship, “they do not have a First Amendment right, however, to use an official platform like the Speaker’s podium ... to express their own religious faiths.”

Of course, we the taxpayers will be stuck paying the legal bills for this useless exercise. But Bosma will have another one of his hot-button wedge issues alive during next year’s election to drive voter turnout of the wackos on the far right. And he will further ensconce his image as a Christian martyr.


Anonymous said...

Hummm...I'm wondering, are there organizations out there that do track the cost incurred for this type of absurd spending of public funds or, for that matter, a means to stop Bosma lunacy before the money is spent?

Gary R. Welsh said...

News organizations often obtain this information through public records request. The legislature controls the purse strings so as long as Bosma's in control, it's his perogative. Technically, much of the costs are absorbed by the AG's office; however, I understand, an outside attorney, Jim Bopp, has assisted with the case. I don't know what the financial arrangement is for his services, or whether that comes out of the House's budget or the AG's budget.

Gary R. Welsh said...

According to Jim Shella's blog, Speaker Bosma was asked how much the legal challenge would cost and he said he did not know. Shella noted he was starting a renovation of the Speaker's office as well.
"House Speaker Brian Bosma told reporters today that he doesn't know how much is being spent on legal fees to fight a Federal ruling on prayer in the House. He must not be worried about the House budget, however. Shortly after his news conference finished work began on a remodeling of the Speaker's office."