Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Court Denies Preliminary Injunction Against Mississippi's Conscience Protection For County Clerks

In Alford v. Moulder, (SD MS, June 20, 2016), a Mississippi federal district court denied a preliminary injunction in a suit by a same-sex couple who are challenging Mississippi's recently enacted Freedom of Conscience Law, HB 1523.  The suit specifically challenges provisions in the law that allow county clerks to recuse themselves on religious or moral grounds from issuing marriage licences. (See prior posting.) The court held that plaintiffs failed to show that injury to them is "imminent" since they merely allege that they plan to apply for a marriage license sometime within the next three years.  Plaintiffs immediately filed a Motion for Reconsideration.

Meanwhile, the same judge heard oral arguments yesterday in a separate case that is also challenging HB 1523.  AP reports that in this suit, plaintiffs are arguing that provisions allowing clerks to recuse themselves in favor of another employee issuing the license could create public humiliation for a same-sex couple when they apply for a license.  "There can't be separate-but-equal marriage. There can't be Jim Crow kind of marriage," the couples' attorney told the court.  Four separate cases challenging HB 1523 have been filed, and the judge will hear oral arguments in the remaining two later this week.