LANDRY: Victory for the Unrepentant
Man’s judgements, his decisions, his very flesh and bones will fail him. However, the rule of law — anchored in the wisdom of God — will not. Therefore, let us always endeavor to be a nation of laws and of God — never of man.
This formula for a successful civilization is inscribed on a frame in my office at the Louisiana State Capitol. It is a great expression that guides my purpose as the Bayou State’s attorney general. And it has been a beneficial reminder to me over the last two years.
If you would have told me when I took office in 2016 as the state’s chief legal officer that our faith and freedom would come under attack the way it has recently, I would have guessed that was too big a bridge even for the radical Left to cross. However, with the way that many elected officials and their bureaucrats used the pandemic to try to strip away liberties given to us by God (not the government), it has been a terrifying reality.
I need not highlight the numerous examples of government mandating that people violate their sincere religious beliefs against taking vaccines in general, or taking those derived from aborted fetal cell lines, or sold by companies that profit from the sale of vaccines and other products derived from abortion. Those and countless other violations could fill this publication seven times over.
Fortunately, one other attempt was recently thwarted in Louisiana when our state supreme court justices ruled with me over the governor — dismissing criminal charges against a pastor.
Throughout the COVID season, the government sanctioned our daily activities in the name of “public health.” They said some of us could and should go to work because we were essential, while everyone else should remain behind closed doors. In no small fashion, the government chose Wall Street over Main Street.
What’s more: they trampled on our faith with the governor — by decree — limiting our ability to worship in the name of protecting us... Or at least, they tried.
The governor — by a stroke of his pen, not a law passed by the legislature — imposed a purported criminal prohibition of permitting more than 50 people to worship in church together during a pandemic.
A number of pastors disregarded the governor’s lockdown mandates and held worship. One’s public defiance led to him be surveilled by police and cited for six misdemeanors, which exposed him to a possible three years in prison. His case worked its way through the courts, and my office filed legal briefs on his behalf. At oral arguments before the Louisiana Supreme Court, the governor’s lawyer made it perfectly clear why they targeted the pastor: because he was “unrepentant.”
You read that right: because of a pastor being “unrepentant,” the government came after him, charged him with a crime the governor created, and openly admitted it was retaliatory.
Does that sound like America — the land that our fallen paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect? The place where people come in droves to live for a taste of the freedoms our nation supposedly provides?
The good news is the Louisiana Supreme Court threw out the case, affirming that the governor cannot create crimes by executive order. The justices — in this matter — upheld religious liberty and stated, “In this criminal proceeding, we find certain provisions of two executive orders, as applied to defendant, violate his fundamental right to exercise religion, do not survive strict scrutiny, and are thus unconstitutional.”
While I am appreciative that the governor’s unconstitutional actions were halted by our court system, I am not putting my guard down. I remain standing at the ready to fight overreaching men and preserve our rule of law, which is anchored in the wisdom of God.
Jeff Landry serves as the attorney general of the state of Louisiana.