Liberty Institute Sought More Than $1 Million In Legal Fees Over Candy Cane Pens

While Kelly Shackelford is not necessarily a household name, he is an influential Religious Right leader, serving as President of Liberty Institute (the new name given to the merger of the Free Market Foundation and the Liberty Legal Institute).

Based in Texas, the organization has been very involved in state-level issues but has, in recent years, also started to branch out into other areas, such as getting involved in lawsuits involving Sarah Palin and “Troopergate” and representing “ACORN prostitute” Hannah Giles.

Liberty’s growing portfolio and budget resulted in a lengthy and informative profile of the group appearing in the Dallas Morning News over the weekend which contained several interesting pieces of information – for instance, the group represented the parents of a boy who, back in 2003, was stopped by school officials from distributing candy cane pens that contained the message “The blood Christ shed for the sins of the world.”   The District eventually revised its policy regarding the distribution of religious materials … and then Liberty tried to collect more than $1 million in legal fees: 

In the Greenville ISD case, the lawyer representing Liberty, Charles Bundren, claimed more than $1.2 million in legal fees before the trial started, according to court documents, and Shackelford asked for an additional $113,000.

Senior federal Judge Barefoot Sanders reviewed those fees and concluded that they were the “most unreasonable fee application this Court has reviewed in 25 years on the district bench.”

Sanders (who died in 2008) struck down Shackelford’s request and lowered Bundren’s fees to $109,000.

Just keep that in mind the next time you hear the Religious Right screaming about how Democrats, the ACLU, and trail lawyers are always siphoning off your tax dollars with their “frivolous lawsuits.”