I’ve always thought that government officials, agents and employees, including cops, should pay the price of their own deliberate malfeasance out of their own pockets instead of stiffing the taxpayers for their wrongdoing. That way maybe they would think twice about how they follow the laws while exercising their considerable powers over us.
Bradley County Sheriff, Eric Watson, doesn’t think so. He likes to use his powers to deliberately create legal messes in his jurisdiction and then let the taxpayers pay for cleaning up after him – in this case $41,000 dollars for stubbornly violating the First Amendment prohibition against establishing religion in his official office.
I’m sure this guy knew better but unfortunately his religion got in the way of his legal duties and common sense. He thought that one of his duties as sheriff should be to proselytize and promote Christianity, Easter and Jesus Christ on the job using the official Bradley County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page. Watson posted the message: “He is Risen,” and then deleted all comments from detractors while allowing any and all comments from supporters.
When he learned that this violates the First Amendment, because it constitutes a government establishment of religion, he continued doing it anyway and stubbornly refused to stop until his department eventually got sued and ended up settling the case for $15,000 in damages and $26,000 in legal fees. Part of the settlement has the Department agreeing not to promote any religious belief.
Defiant to the end, Watson denies violating the plaintiffs' rights. He says the settlement was a business decision made by the county. That “business decision,” paid for by the taxpayers, was necessary to clean up the legal mess he deliberately created and therefore he damn well ought to be responsible to pay them back out of his own pocket – if not, his hide.