Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mississippi AG Will Not Appeal Injunction Against Conscience Protection Act, Despite Governor's Appeal of Decision [UPDATED]

In a strong statement (full text) issued yesterday, Mississippi state Attorney General Jim Hood announced that he will not appeal a federal district court's injunction against enforcing HB 1523 , Mississippi's anti-LGBT Conscience Protection Act, (See prior posting.) Hood said in part:
First, both HB 1523’s critics and supporters acknowledge that the bill did not change state or federal law. For example, there is no state law requiring pastors to marry same-sex couples, and I doubt that the Legislature would ever pass one.  Moreover, the Mississippi Legislature has already passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which protects a person’s right to exercise his or her religious beliefs.  HB 1523’s critics and supporters also recognize that HB 1523 cannot overturn or preempt federal law.  As acknowledged by our Governor, HB 1523 is not a defense to a federal lawsuit.
Simply stated, all HB 1523 has done is tarnish Mississippi’s image while distracting us from the more pressing issues of decaying roads and bridges, underfunding of public education, the plight of the mentally ill and the need to solve our state’s financial mess....
Second, to appeal HB 1523 and fight for an empty bill that dupes one segment of our population into believing it has merit while discriminating against another is just plain wrong. I don’t believe that’s the way to carry out Jesus’ primary directives to protect the least among us and to love thy neighbor....
Misinformation that, without HB 1523, pastors, churches, bakers, wedding planners or other private service providers will be forced to violate their religious beliefs has been used repeatedly to frighten our citizens into supporting the dogmatic politicians who use religion for political gain.
Hood added however that depending on the wording of the final order he might appeal a separate federal court decision extending the injunction in an earlier same-sex marriage case to all court clerks who were not parties.(See prior posting.)

UPDATE: It should be noted that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has already filed a Notice of Appeal in the case, so presumably he will pursue the appeal using counsel other than the Attorney General.