Congressman John Fleming, M.D., and Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D., released the following statement in response to Senator Mary Landrieu’s legislative attempt to restore federal funding to the Young Marines program in Bossier City. Funding was denied to the program after Sheriff Whittington, of Bossier Parish, refused to sign an agreement pledging to end voluntary prayer.
“While I appreciate Senator Landrieu looking into an absurd situation created by the Obama Department of Justice, the senator's legislation is redundant and doesn't advance the issue,” said Fleming. “Existing statute and case law provides ample protection for voluntary prayer at the Young Marines program, and Senator Landrieu’s bill is merely a restatement of that law. There is an abundance of case law about ‘viewpoint discrimination’ and precedent is already on our side, with the Supreme Court saying ‘viewpoint discrimination’ of religious speech is unconstitutional. Therefore, a legislative remedy is a distraction, when an immediate remedy is available to the Bossier Sheriff. The Department of Justice can and should act immediately to restore the funding. I have called on DOJ to do exactly that in a letter to Attorney General Holder, and I hope Senator Landrieu will join that effort and also call on him to act to reverse this clearly unconstitutional decision by DOJ. Giving him another law to ignore is not the answer.”
“If congress can open with prayer why can’t the Bossier Young Marines,” asked Cassidy. “The religious freedom of the Bossier Young Marines is already protected by both the Constitution and the laws of this land; the Department of Justice should be more aware of the law. Senator Vitter, Representative Fleming and I call on the Obama DOJ to immediately reverse their decision and restore funding to the Bossier Young Marines. We don’t need redundant laws or more government or political posturing, we need to abide by the laws already enshrined by our Founding Fathers.”
Dr. John Fleming is Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He is a physician and small business owner and represents the 4th Congressional District of Louisiana.