SCOTUS Makes Decision on Mississippi Religious Freedom Law

Mississippi’s Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act passed into law in 2016, but was immediately challenged by opponents.

Last June, a US appeals court lifted an injunction that blocked the law, but gay groups continued to fight the issue.

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to take up the legal battle that ended up on their doorstep.

The law took effect on October 10, and it now appears that the Supreme Court won’t overturn it anytime soon.

The law gives court clerks legal protection so that they won’t have to issue marriage licenses to gay couples against their religious principles. It also protects businesses who stand by religious objections to homosexuality.

Fox News reported just before the law took effect:

House Bill 1523, also known as the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, was passed and signed into law last year. Its implementation was delayed after court challenges, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has refused to keep delaying the law.

The law would protect court clerks who use religious objections to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. It also would protect businesses who deny services to the LGBT community. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant says it aims protect those who fear being punished for their religious beliefs.

Religious beliefs and moral convictions protected by the act include the beliefs that marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman, that sex should only take place in such a marriage, and that a person’s gender at birth cannot be changed.

The law protects those beliefs as religious freedoms, something laws ought not restrict.

The Supreme Court’s decision not to weigh in on the argument means that for now, the law will remain as is, and business owners won’t have to serve events that violate their religious objections. Bakers, for example, who refuse to make cakes for gay weddings won’t have to worry about losing their jobs over their decisions.

Opponents, meanwhile, say it’s discriminatory, and they promise to continue working to overturn it.

NBC News reports:

A conservative law firm that helped defend the law praised the Supreme Court for refusing to take up the challenge.

“Good laws like Mississippi’s protect freedom and harm no one,” said Kevin Theriot of Alliance Defending Freedom.

He said the law’s only purpose was guaranteeing “that Mississippians don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union.”

But gay rights groups promised to continue their efforts to get the law struck down.

“We will keep fighting in Mississippi until we overturn this harmful law, and in any state where anti-gay legislators pass laws to roll back LGBT civil rights,” said Beth Littrell of Lambda Legal. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision today leaves LGBT people in Mississippi in the crosshairs of hate and humiliation, delaying justice and equality.”

Without this legal protection, business owners would be forced to grant client wishes despite their own ideologies. Are the religious beliefs of certain court clerks and business owners unconstitutional?

Be sure to tell us what you think, and sound off in the comments below.