Supreme Court lets discrimination stand

by Abel Hampton January 12, 2018, 1:07
Supreme Court lets discrimination stand

The US Supreme Court on Monday ended the first legal challenge to a Republican-backed MS law that permits businesses and government employees to refuse to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people due to their religious beliefs.

"Good laws like Mississippi's protect freedom and harm no one", said Kevin Theriot, one of the group's lawyers. This bill allows businesses to refuse to serve same-sex weddings based on the religious beliefs of their owners.

Some religious conservatives are celebrating the Supreme Court's decision regarding the law, which was strongly supported by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant.

The justices did not comment Monday (Jan. 8) in their decision to leave in place a federal appeals court ruling that allowed the law to take effect.

LGBT legal groups filed petitions for certiorari seeking review of the law before the Supreme Court a year ago after a three-judge panel Fifth Circuit upheld the anti-LGBT law on the basis plaintiffs lacked standing.

Gay rights groups and residents who have been denied service are expected to issue a new wave of challenges, possibly bringing it back to the Supreme Court's attention.

Opponents say the fight isn't over, but one of the legal routes is at a stopping point for now. The Supreme Court refused to review that judgment.

"They're specifically different, but they both raise at a very high general level issues about religious freedom and civil rights protections", Kaplan said.

"We had challenged it before it went into effect. before people were hurt and turned away and left without all the access to health care and government services that everyone else has", says Beth Littrell, a lawyer for Lambda Legal, a legal organization that advocates for LGBT people. At the district court level, Reeves in October allowed up to five written interrogatories to identify which of the 82 clerk's offices in MS have sought to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples HB 1523 and the process by which they intend to handle those recusals. A federal judge has allowed the law's challengers to try to find people who have been denied services under the law because they would be able to make a strong legal claim that they have been harmed.

The Supreme Court did not state why it did not take up the case. The presence of this unconscionable law not only licenses discrimination but encourages discrimination.

"I am also optimistic that, if the constitutionality of HB 1523 ever reaches the Supreme Court, the Court will agree that it is invalid", said Minter.

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