US Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to Mississippi’s discriminatory “religious freedom” law
Matthew Taylor and Ed Hightower
11 January 2018
The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal in two lawsuits against a Mississippi law that encourages discrimination by state employees and businesses against homosexuals, transgender individuals, and those who have sexual intercourse but are not married.
As a result, the ruling of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals remains in effect allowing and encouraging petty and stigmatizing discrimination against Mississippians who do not conform to conservative Judeo-Christian dogma. As the law stands, a county clerk in Mississippi can refuse to issue a marriage license to a gay couple. Likewise, a pharmacist can refuse to refill an unmarried woman’s prescription for birth control, and a restaurant owner could segregate transgender persons in his dining area, or ban them from eating there altogether.
The lower court justices have stated that they will allow plaintiffs to refile the case if they can prove actual instances of discrimination. (The initial challenge to the law in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi resulted in an injunction, barring the law from taking effect at all.)
The anti-democratic law, referred to as HB 1523, followed on the heels of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriages.
Titled the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Religious Discrimination Act,” the law blatantly violates the Establishment Clause and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution and legalizes wide-ranging discrimination against LGBT people based on religious belief. The language of the bill and the legal arguments made by the…