As legal scholars with expertise in matters of religious freedom, civil rights, and the interaction between those fields, we offer our opinion on the scope and meaning of Mississippi House Bill 1523, which was signed into law today by Governor Phil Bryant. Specifically, we wish to call attention to language in the law that we believe conflicts with the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. We share the view of Justice Kennedy when he expressed that “a bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest,” and would add that neither can such a desire be justified in the name of religious liberty. HB 1523 presents a conflict with First Amendment religious freedom doctrine by providing for religious exemptions that will meaningfully harm the rights of others, particularly LGBT Mississippians.
Civil Rights and Discrimination | Law | Sexuality and the Law
Center for Gender & Sexuality Law
Katherine M. Franke, Michèle Alexandre, Deborah A. Challener, Judith J. Johnson, Richard Gershon, Elizabeth A. Sepper, Noa Ben-Asher, Daria Roithmayr & Nomi M. Stolzenberg,
Memorandum on Mississippi House Bill 1523,
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/3939