Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Mississippi Anti-LGBTQ Law

On Thursday, June 22, 2017, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower federal court’s ruling that prevented Mississippi’s HB 1523, the Religious Freedom law, so named by the Mississippi legislature, from going into effect. HB 1523 will allow almost any individual, business or organization to cite religious beliefs as a justification to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals.

Mississippi HB 1523 Religious Freedom Law, In Brief:

Thursday’s ruling by the 3-judge panel in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the verdict that had been the ruling in a previous U.S. District Court that prevented Mississippi’s HB 1523 from becoming law. However, in that verdict dismissal, the Circuit Court did so on the basis that the original plaintiffs in the case lacked standing to bring the lawsuit rather than dismissing the verdict on the merits of the law itself.

Judge Jerry E. Smith wrote the opinion of the Fifth Circuit, explaining that court’s decision, in part:

“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 clearinjury-in-fact …but the federal courts must withhold judgment unless and until that plaintiff comes forward.”

Reacting to the Fifth Circuit Court’s decision, Human Rights Commission Mississippi State Director Rob Hill said:

“We are deeply disappointed that the actions taken today by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals clear the path for the anti-LGBTQ law H.B. 1523 to take effect in Mississippi. This law — now the most discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ state law in the country — was rooted in hate, it targets the LGBTQ community and it is a deliberate attempt to undermine marriage equality and the dignity of LGBTQ Mississippians who lawmakers have sworn to serve and protect. We will continue to fight tooth and nail against H.B. 1523 until it no longer threatens our community.



Even with the June 22 Fifth Circuit Court ruling, Mississippi HB 1523, the Religious Freedom law, does not immediately go into effect, but must wait two weeks due to an order by that court that the plaintiffs have that period of time to ask the court to reconsider its ruling. If the plaintiffs fail to act, the court will issue an order that HB 1523 go into effect at that time.

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