The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower federal court’s decision to strike down House Bill 1523, allowing the law to take effect.
Writing on behalf of himself and Judges Catharina Haynes and Jennifer Elrod, Judge Jerry E. Smith dismissed last summer’s U.S. District Court verdict, ruling that the original plaintiffs challenging House Bill 1523 lacked standing.
“Under this current record, the plaintiffs have not shown an injury-in-fact caused by HB 1523 that would empower the district court or this court to rule on its constitutionality. We do not foreclose the possibility that a future plaintiff may be able to show clear injury-in-fact … but the federal courts must withhold judgment unless and until that plaintiff comes forward,” Smith wrote in his opinion for the Fifth Circuit.
Which is exactly what readers of MississippiPEP.com read over a year ago. Here’s a few excerpts with links to the full articles:
“A shocking amount of slanted news stories uncritically describe Mississippi’s new law as “anti-gay” or “discriminatory.” Nothing could be further from the truth.” “The law now simply protects religious organizations and a narrow slice of small businesses from being forced by government to engage in behavior that contradicts their deeply held beliefs. Nobody is being denied services because of who they are.
Bryant and the Mississippi state legislature have set a sterling example for other states seeking to protect the rights of all Americans. They did so in the face of vitriolic, misleading opposition from progressives and the corporations they use as instruments of bullying. This took real courage, and deserves our praise.”
“The state action requirement stems from the fact that the constitutional amendments which protect individual rights (especially the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment) are mostly phrased as prohibitions against government action. For example, the First Amendment states that “[c]ongress shall make no law” infringing upon the freedoms of speech and religion. Because of this requirement, it is impossible for private parties (citizens or corporations) to violate these amendments, and all lawsuits alleging constitutional violations of this type must show how the government (state or federal) was responsible for the violation of their rights.”
“HB 1523 doesn’t prohibit, impede or delay homosexual marriage. Nor does it empower state-sponsored discrimination against anyone seeking to exercise the new right. It merely demands the government remain neutral out of respect for the conflicting rights involved.
Such inaction is precisely the balance required by the U.S. Constitution.
It doesn’t matter that one right may be less popular than another, and rights don’t change with the mere passage of time.”
“A quick read of the bill shows exactly what HB 1523 reaffirms–a secular state government position of neutrality. There will be no action by the state to pick sides when it comes to these conflicting rights. The state will “stay out of it”.
Bigotry requires action in order for it to be “bigoted”. Belief in the biblical definition of marriage, whether privately or publicly held, as Scalia noted in 2013, does not demean those who believe otherwise. The action for those who want to make issue of it is the state recognition of religious conscience in these matters. If that is bigotry then millions of Christians across Mississippi fit the description, which is exactly what progressives want you to believe.”
“It is not good enough to refuse to take a public position. Reaffirming a position of neutrality, whether by government or the individual, is the same to progressives and much of the media as bigotry.”
“Only one side of this crazy debate is demanding you support them or they will declare you an enemy of all that is right. Only one side is demanding absolute allegiance. It’s not those who believe in balanced Liberty; religious, individual or otherwise.”
“First, House Bill 1523 protects only those individuals with “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral conviction” that marriage is properly confined to one man and one woman, that sexual relationships should be limited to such marriages, and that the terms male and female refer to “an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics.” The protection applies to participation in religious services, but also to all employment-related and housing activities subject to the same caveat. The wording was chosen in part to make it clear that no explicit preferences were given to religious persons or groups on this score, in order to forestall the charge of favoritism. But there is little doubt that the religious element was the primary motivation for the provision.
Judge Reeves struck down the Mississippi statute because he did not grasp the fundamental distinction between forcing others to yield to your beliefs and just asking to be left alone. His confusion is evident from his opening salvo that quotes the Supreme Court in Epperson v. Arkansas (1968) as saying that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment means that the state “may not aid, foster, or promote one religion or religious theory against another.” He then uses McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union (2005) to argue that it violates the Establishment Clause—“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”—“when the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion.”
At no point, however, does Judge Reeves attempt to put either of these broad generalities into context. And context matters. The words in Epperson were directed to an Arkansas law that prohibited the teaching of evolution in public schools—a clear instance of a state-compelled law that binds all persons inside the legal system. No one could describe this as a situation in which private parties sought to run their own lives and businesses free of government interference. Similarly, McCreary County struck down two county resolutions that announced that the Ten Commandments were Kentucky’s “precedent legal code,” and authorized extensive religious exhibits on public property intended to extol its virtues. There is no similar commitment of public resources in House Bill 1523. It is practically legal malpractice to rip out of context words that were rightly intended to knock down state coercion for religion and the state subsidy of religion while invalidating a statute whose whole purpose was to insulate private parties from any form of public coercion.”