NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled unanimously on Thursday that those who filed suit to stop a state law protecting Mississippians against government discrimination haven’t shown they have been or will be harmed by the law. The court therefore vacated the injunction that had been blocking the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act (HB 1523) from going into effect.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are part of the legal team representing Gov. Phil Bryant in the lawsuits, Barber v. Bryant and Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant.
“Good laws like Mississippi’s protect freedom and harm no one. The court did the right thing in finding that those who have challenged this law haven’t been harmed and, therefore, can’t try to take the law down,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The sole purpose of this law is to ensure that Mississippians don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union. Those who filed suit have not and will not be harmed but want to restrict freedom and impose their beliefs on others by ensuring dissenters are left open to the government discrimination that has already occurred in states without protective laws like this one.”
HB 1523 protects citizens, public servants, businesses, and religious institutions from government reprisal for operating publicly according to their belief that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman. Bryant signed the overwhelmingly popular bill into law in April 2016, but a federal district court stopped its enforcement shortly thereafter.
The 5th Circuit, however, concluded in its opinion that since “the plaintiffs do not have standing, we reverse the injunction and render a judgment of dismissal…. Because the challengers have failed to provide sufficient evidence of an injury-in-fact from HB 1523…, they have not made a clear showing of standing.”
Co-counsel Jonathan F. Mitchell of Stanford Law School argued before the 5th Circuit in April on behalf of Bryant.