Fight Over LGBT Rights May Go to the Supreme Court
In the latest episode in a long legal battle, Louisiana Governor John Bell Edwards (D) led an appeal to the State Supreme Court seeking to reinstate his Executive Order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in state employment and by state contractors.
Edwards issued the order in April of 2016. Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry immediately challenged the order in District Court claiming the order usurped the legislature’s power. The Republican-controlled legislature has consistently refused to pass legislation protecting LGBT workers.
Executive orders have never carried the weight of law and similar orders regarding non-discrimination in state government issued by Governors Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco (both Democrats) were never legally challenged, although Republican Governor Bobby Jindal rescinded Blanco’s order when he succeeded her.
19th District Court Judge Todd Hernandez ruled in favor of Landry, effectively nullifying the executive order. In his ruling, Hernandez asserted the executive order, “extends beyond the parameters of executive order authority.”
The Edwards Administration then appealed the ruling to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which also ruled in the Attorney General’s favor in November of last year. All three appellate judges (Toni M. Higginbotham, Allison H. Penzato, and Guy Holdridge) were elected as Republicans.
In response to the ruling, the Governor issued the following statement: “I have said repeatedly that discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this decision does not change my conviction that hiring decisions in state government should be based on merit alone. Discrimination in state government and by state contractors is wrong, makes us weaker, and is bad for business and economic development.” The Governor has also repeatedly said, “Discrimination is not a Louisiana value.”
The Administration has appealed the First Circuit decision to the State Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has not indicated if it will accept the case.
This ongoing legal saga between the Governor and the Attorney General may be a preview of what to expect in next year’s gubernatorial election. Political insiders agree that Attorney General Landry is preparing to challenge the Governor in his re-election bid.
Landry is a Tea Party Republican and Trump supporter. Despite his holier-than-thou rhetoric, Landry’s career has been marred by a series of minor scandals and questionable ethics.
In 1993, when Landry was a Deputy Sheriff, $10,000 worth of cocaine was recovered from his home. His roommate, also a Deputy Sheriff, was arrested and a few months later, Landry turned in his badge.
During his campaign for Attorney General, Landry was criticized for never actually having practiced law. He cited a law firm he once worked for but when pressed could not remember a single case he tried.
After a fatal bus accident in Laplace in 2016, Landry blamed the crash on immigrants, citing New Orleans as a sanctuary city.
In 2012, Landry was caught misappropriating campaign funds.
More recently, Landry attempted to violate the law by requesting travel reimbursements for his commute to work. After denying the request, republican Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said, “He was essentially double dipping on a request for an automobile allowance.”
Last year, Landry’s Super-PAC supported alleged child molester Roy Moore in his campaign for the U.S. senate in Alabama.
Landry also makes a big deal over prosecuting marijuana smokers. His record suggests Reefer Madness is one of his favorite movies.
Landry also used his office to block Governor Edwards when the Governor attempted to sue oil and gas companies over their role in coastal erosion. Like most republican politicians, Landy knows which side his bread is buttered on.
Landry also knows his base—rural, white, fundamentalist Christians, which also explains his vehement opposition LGBT rights, despite the fact his brother is gay. “Family Values” go only so far, after all.
Not only is Landry homophobic, he is also a racist. Breitbart News, the white supremacist, neo-Nazi website headed by former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, endorsed Landry in his race for Attorney General.
We don’t know if Governor Edwards will win his legal battle, or even if the Supreme Court will take the Executive Order case, but we do know this— Governor Edwards is fighting for LGBT people and Attorney General Landry is opposing him. We also know that Landry is a self-serving asshole. The election campaign for governor next year should be interesting, to say the least.