Democrat appeals decision striking down his order banning discrimination.
By Kevin McGill
NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana’s governor is going to the state’s Supreme Court in hopes of reviving his executive order aimed at protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in state government.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, issued an order in April 2016 banning discrimination in state government and state contracts based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry challenged the order.
A state district judge and a state appeal court have agreed that the order was an unconstitutional attempt to expand state law.
On Friday, Edwards’ office released a copy of its appeal to the state Supreme Court in New Orleans.
Edwards’ lawyers argue that the executive order, referred to in court documents as JBE 16-11, is not a law, but an executive branch policy that Edwards has the authority to set.
“JBE 16-11 is simply a policy directive concerning state employment in the executive branch and the contractual provisions of state services,” the governor’s Supreme Court filing states. “It does not have the effect or force of law. It establishes a principle significant to Governor Edwards — that discrimination is not a Louisiana value — through a valid mechanism for issuing executive branch directives.”
Efforts to pass LGBTQ protections have failed in the Legislature.
Edwards’ Supreme Court filing comes a month after a three-judge state appeal court panel ruled against Edwards. The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruling said the order “goes beyond a mere policy statement or a directive to fulfill law, because there is no current state or federal law specifically outlining anti-discrimination laws concerning and-or defining sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Landry, who has clashed with Edwards on several issues since both took office in 2016, is considered a potential challenger for Edwards in the 2019 governor’s race. His office said late Friday that it would oppose Edwards’ efforts.
“We believe the First Circuit got it right when they ruled last month,” said Ruth Wisher, Landry’s press secretary.
It was unclear when the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear arguments in the case.