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Federal Judge Halts HB 1523 From Taking Effect on July 1

Judge Carlton W. Reeves (photo from Wikipedia)
Judge Carlton W. Reeves (photo from Wikipedia)

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves has blocked House Bill 1523, also known as “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” from taking effect today, July 1.

Judge Reeves ruled late on Thursday night, June 30, with a 60-page ruling where he wrote the Establishment Clause is violated because “the state has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others. Showing such favor tells ‘nonadherents’ that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community…”

He cited several precedents in his ruling. He also wrote, “HB 1523 also violates the First Amendment because its broad religious exemption comes at the expense of other citizens…A religious accommodation which does no harm to others is much more likely to survive a legal challenge than one which does.”

Attorneys representing the state government are expected to file an appeal. If the appeals fail, Judge Reeves’ preliminary injunctions will become permanent. Earlier this week on June 27, Judge Reeves also issued an injunction banning Mississippi’s circuit clerks or their staff members from denying same-sex marriage licenses even if HB 1523 takes effect.

After Governor Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523 into law this past April, Oxford’s House Representative for Mississippi’s 12th District, Jay Hughes, co-sponsored the “Mississippi Economic and Tourism Recovery Act” with Representative Stephen Holland.

Jay Hughes
Jay Hughes

When asked about his thoughts on Judge Reeve’s recent ruling on HB 1523, Rep. Hughes said, “The ruling on the unconstitutionality did not come as a surprise to any attorney. I do not believe the state should ever be in the position of granting any group of people superior rights over another group of people. This law was totally unnecessary, as the first amendment already protects all religions. There has never been a case in American history where any church was required to marry any couple. The economic consequences of this unfortunate law will be felt for years and has painted Mississippi in a negative light at a time we can ill afford it with our budget woes.”

Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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