Mississippi Governor Asks Judge To Allow State To Begin Enforcing Right-To-Discriminate Law

Jim Burroway

July 12th, 2016

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R)

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R)

Last night, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant filed a notice (PDF: 56KB/3 pages) saying that he will appeal a federal judge’s injunction preventing a state right-to-discriminate law from going into effect. He also filed a motion (PDF: 56KB/3 pages) with Federal District Judge Carlton Reeves asking the judge to stay his injunction so the law could be enforced.

Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law, HB 1523, would allow individuals, religious organizations and businesses to deny services to LGBT people based on “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” The law also would allow county clerks to selectively refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on those same grounds. Judge Reeves issued a very lengthy injunction (which actually read more like a final court ruling) in which the court found that Mississippi’s law “was the State’s attempt to put LGBT citizens back in their place” after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned bans against same-sex marriage nationwide last year in Obergefell v. Hodges.

In the memorandum accompanying both filings (PDF: 109KB/9 pages), Gov. Bryant argues that “the state is likely to succeed on appeal” due to arguments that were already made in earlier filings with Judge Reeves’s court: that “none of the plaintiffs have standing” and that HB 1523 is constitutional. Judge Reeves had already dealt extensively with those arguments in his injunction.

Gov. Bryant’s memorandum also asserts, “The State will suffer irreparable injury absent a stay because the Court’s injunction,” although he does not explain what that injury entails. He also asserts that “a stay pending appeal is in the public interest because the statutory policy of the Legislature ‘is in itself a declaration of the public interest’… If the Court agrees with the State that it is likely to prevail in its appeal, then a stay pending appeal is by definition in the public interest.”

Bryant also asserts that HB 1523 isn’t harmful to the plaintiffs:

The plaintiffs have not even alleged, let alone produced evidence, that they will suffer discrimination at the hands of public or private actors if HB 1523 is allowed to take effect. And the “offense” that they have taken from Mississippi’s decision to protect the conscientious scruples of those who oppose same-sex marriage is not a legally cognizable harm.

Ordinarily, the Mississippi Attorney General’s office would be expected to appeal the injunction, but Attorney General Jim Hood (D) announced that his office hasn’t decided whether to do so. His  statement however strongly suggested that he would not be inclined to appeal, saying that “the churchgoing public was duped into believing that HB1523 protected religious freedoms.”

Sir Andrew

July 12th, 2016

I can’t ignore the feeling that this guy with the Mississippi smile is counting the moments until he can file his appeal of the unfair and unconstitutional Emancipation Proclamation.

I wouldn’t mind these pro-religious discrimination laws as much were these so-called christians to also refuse service to liars, adulterers, coveters, atheists, those wearing poly/cotton shirts and dresses, daughters who had not yet been sold into slavery in a neighboring country, wives who weren’t virgins on their wedding night, eaters of bacon, men who shaved or cut their hair and all the rest of the sinners they regularly disdain (even while committing the same “sins” themselves). Not to mention those who don’t love their neighbors as themselves. At least that would put all of them out of business.

There should have been an eleventh commandment: Though shalt not be flaming hypocrites. Maybe that was on the third tablet, the one Moses dropped.

Ben in oakland

July 12th, 2016

It comes under bearing false witness.


July 13th, 2016

Sir Andrew: there are the same problems with the discrimination you noted in the “also included” part of your comment: that also enshrines one set of religious beliefs in the law, a clear violation of the Establishment Clause.

We’ve spent what, a hundred years? More? stripping the Bible out of the civil law. Let’s not start putting it back in.


July 13th, 2016

Looks, from your summary, as though Bryant is following the Liberty Counsel strategy: ignore any arguments that refute your case and file, file again.

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