Republican lawmakers in the Pennsylvania state House spent $1.1 million defending their anti-atheist policy, according to Friendly Atheist, which bars the non-religious from delivering the chamber’s invocation.
In August, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals had the final say on a lawsuit brought by atheists who claimed a Pennsylvania House rule blocking atheists from giving the invocation before legislative sessions was discriminatory. The panel ruled in favor of the lawmakers, and it is unlikely that higher courts would reverse course.
Journalist Jan Murphy of PennLive uncovered just how much Republicans were willing to pay — out of taxpayer funds — to silence the state’s atheists.
When all the legal bills were tallied for the lawsuit that played out over three years, the amount paid to the Philadelphia law firm of Stradley Ronan totaled more than $1.1 million, according to House Speaker Mike Turzai’s office.
… Asked about the expense involved in defending the prayer tradition, he said, “As Speaker of the House, we were going to defend the longstanding tradition of beginning the legislative day with a prayer.”
Dana Weaver, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, responded to news of the cost saying, “Our money is easy for them to spend and our opinions are just as easy for them to negate. Ain’t that a shame.”
“I would like to be flattered that it was just so important to them to keep me quiet because that means that what I have to say is of value,” she added.