The U.S. Supreme Court became out of balance shortly after Donald Trump took office and offered up Neil Gorsuch to fill the justice spot that belonged to President Barack Obama. Instead of the court having five moderate- to left-leaning justices, Trump’s addition swung the court toward the conservative side. The results of the Republicans refusing Obama his right to appoint a justice to fill a vacancy during his term have just begun to surface.
The Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant and Bryant v. Barber filed lawsuits against Mississippi’s anti-LGBTQ law, that the state passed and Governor Phil Bryant signed into law in 2016, HB 1523.
What is HB 1523? It lets Mississippi state employees, officials, and private individuals deny LGBTQ people all sorts of services, based upon their own religious beliefs. Freedom for All Americans states that there are three exemptions:
‘That marriage can only be between a man and a woman,
‘That sexual intercourse is properly reserved to such a marriage, and
‘Sex is an immutable characteristic assigned at birth that cannot
Roberta Kaplan and Lambda Legal each filed a lawsuit against the new law. In June of 2017, Judge Carlton Reeves entered a permanent injunction that would block the part of the bill that lets county clerks refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The judge also issued another injunction in June 2017. This blocked the entire law from going into effect.
State Attorney General Jim Hood said he would not fight Judge Reeves ruling. Bryant hired a private law firm to continue the appeal. A three-judge panel for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found the plaintiffs in the the Barber case did not have legal standing. That reversed the earlier injunction, which went into effect October 10.
The Barber plaintiffs filed for an en banc hearing from the 5th Circuit after they were denied. Both legal teams filed petitions to have the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, which it did on Friday, January 5.
Freedom for All Americans released a statement after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case, stating:
‘With HB 1523 still in effect, LGBTQ Mississippians and their families are hurting every day, denied the necessary protections to make them feel safe and welcome in the Magnolia State. However, this is not the end of the line. We thank the legal organizations working toward resolution in these and other cases, and we remain confident that when judges stop and examine the discriminatory nature of the HB 1523 law, it will be overturned.’
The organization is a bipartisan campaign that describes its goal as to:
‘Secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive non-discrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.
‘With the ultimate goal of securing federal statutory protections for LGBTQ Americans, Freedom for All Americans works at the federal, state, and local level to advance measures and laws protecting from
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression – without allowing overly broad and harmful religious exemptions that will encourage employers, business owners
or others to choose to disregard those protections.’
Freedom for All Americans will follow the case as updates occur. The site has a Litigation Tracker for all who want to track any related legislation.
Featured Image via Getty Images Chip Somodevilla.