Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to Mississippi anti-LGBT law

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The U.S. Supreme Court won’t take up legal challenges to a Mississippi “religious freedom” law enabling sweeping discrimination against LGBT people, leaving extremely limited recourse to combat the anti-LGBT statute.

In an orders list on Monday, the Supreme Court announced it had rejected two petitions for certiorari — one filed by legal groups in the lawsuit Barber v. Bryant, the other filed by legal groups in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant — as well as a series of other petitions pending before the Supreme Court.

Both petitions sought Supreme Court review of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of the Mississippi anti-LGBT law, which enables businesses and individuals to discriminate in the name of “religious freedom.” The law was signed in 2016 by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who has vowed to defend the statute against legal challenges in court.

The orders list provides no explanation for the rejections of these petitions, nor the vote by they were rejected. It takes a vote of at least four justices to grant certiorari, or agree to take up a case.

The law, HB 1523, prohibits the state from taking action against religious organizations that decline employment, housing or services to same-sex couples; families who’ve adopted a foster child and wish to act in opposition to same-sex marriage; and individuals who offer wedding services and decline to facilitate a same-sex wedding.

Additionally, the bill allows individuals working in medical services to decline to afford a transgender person gender reassignment surgery. The bill also allows state government employees who facilitate marriages the option to opt out of issuing licenses to same-sex couples, but the person must issue prior written notice to the state government and a clerk’s office must not delay in the issuing of licenses.

LGBT legal groups filed petitions for certiorari seeking review of the law before the Supreme Court after a three-judge panel Fifth Circuit upheld the anti-LGBT law and the full court refused to review that decision in an “en banc” review.

Those decisions overturned a ruling from U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, who determined the law violates the Establishment Clause by endorsing a particular religious view on LGBT issues and the Equal Protection Clause by enabling anti-LGBT discrimination.

Both the district court and the appeals court rendered those decisions as a result of a consolidated case of two lawsuits, although the legal groups behind the litigation filed two petitions for certiorari for review before the Supreme Court separately.

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