Ruling Reeves a Lot to Be Desired

Barb Wire

While most Mississippians were getting ready for bed, Judge Carlton Reeves’s office was buzzing. The controversial judge, responsible for striking down the state’s marriage amendment, was busy working on an encore. Under the cloak of darkness, he released a 60-page activist ruling blocking the state’s popular religious freedom bill, less than an hour before it was set to take effect.

The Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act had barely been signed into law when intolerant liberals vowed to file suit. Now with the help of Reeves, the Left has another victory from the courts that it couldn’t achieve legislatively. Under this law, churches wouldn’t be the only ones protected from government punishment for their natural marriage and sexuality beliefs — so would businesses, wedding vendors, and even public officials. Now, thanks to one unelected, activist judge, those protections will have to wait. In his opinion, Reeves claims the law gives preference to certain religions. But, as FRC’s Travis Weber points out, his sloppy, “ends justify the means” ruling is a travesty.

“First, he has to stretch and pull the law like silly string in order to find an actual, real injury to anyone here. In finding a so-called ‘injury’ on the part of the plaintiffs, he has told the many people of conscience who need protection under this law ‘you don’t matter’ and ‘I don’t give a rip about your conscience.’ He can try to dress it up in legalize all he wants, but that’s what this comes down to. He somehow finds HB 1523 to be a violation of the Establishment Clause, despite the fact that it imposes no coercive religious requirement on anybody! He claims that since the law doesn’t protect every type of religious belief out there, it’s somehow invalid. Under this judge’s reason, any tailored conscience or religious rights protections would be invalid. HB 1523 was designed to protect against state-imposed orthodoxy on marriage. How the judge could miss that is baffling.”

Fortunately, Governor Phil Byrant (R) who’s been tough as nails under pressure, didn’t roll over before—and has no plans of doing so now. The winner of FRC’s Samuel Adams Religious Freedom Award is already looking forward “to an aggressive appeal.”

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In the meantime, Mississippians aren’t the only ones being trampled upon by unelected and virtually unaccountable judges. In Indiana, a federal judge put a screeching halt to the state’s new law banning abortion solely based on a baby’s disability like Down Syndrome. Planned Parenthood fought the measure, which was only the second in the country protecting children from discrimination based on sex, race, or disability. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sided with the Left’s request for an injunction against the Dignity for the Unborn Law before it could take effect today.

Thanks to these two rulings, voters have another clear picture of what’s at stake in this fall’s election. Once again, we’re forced to sit and watch as unelected judges overturn laws duly enacted by the people’s elected representatives. If voters are not yet fed up, they should be, and unless they speak up, they won’t have a say in their government much longer.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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