IN THE PUBLIC ARENA
Liberty Institute Submits Letter to DOJ Demanding Reinstatement of Funding; Young Marines Receive Bi-Partisan Support
BOSSIER, LA, July 12, 2013 – Today, Liberty Institute, on behalf of Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office (BPSO) in Bossier, LA, submitted a demand letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (DOJ) and the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement (LCLE) about their discriminatory decision to deny funds for Bossier Parish Young Marines and Youth Diversion programs. In March 2012, a DOJ audit of the program noted their “special emphasis on the love of God and fidelity to our country.”
“We are deeply troubled that the DOJ, the agency in charge of defending the civil rights of us all, would engage in this type of discrimination by denying permission to fund this outstanding Young Marines program,” said Michael Berry, attorney for Liberty Institute and former United States Marine who served in Afghanistan.
“The Young Marines is a great organization for boys and girls to learn basic life skills that will enable them to serve their communities as productive citizens. It is shameful that a mere mention of God sends the DOJ officials running as if they had seen a ghost,” said Berry.
The letter states that the DOJ’s denial of funds to the BPSO youth programs violates the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause because it constitutes unlawful viewpoint discrimination. It demands that the DOJ recommend and that the LCLE grant BPSO’s application to receive grant funds without delay or special conditions.
Click here to read the BPSO’s letter to the DOJ.
The Young Marines program has been in place for more than 10 years, without issue, and both youth programs have successfully reached more than one thousand at-risk youth in Bossier Parish. The federal funds were used to purchase uniforms and supplies.
From both sides of the aisle, Governor Bobby Jindal, Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, and Congressman John Fleming support the Young Marines and are opposed to the DOJ’s decision.
About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.