BATON ROUGE – The battle over who has the final say in Louisiana constitutional matters will continue until at least the end of the month.
Judge Todd Hernandez, 19th Judicial District Court, Civil Court, has set a new hearing date of Nov. 29 to hear arguments in an ongoing dispute between Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican.
Landry has asked for a court injunction blocking Edwards’ order that bans discrimination within government contracts of workers identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). By using his attorney general powers, Landry has blocked contracts that have the anti-discrimination language.
The two sides remain fiercely committed to the issue.
Landry said Edwards is violating his duty to execute laws by requiring the language in government contracts by what he calls legislating through “executive fiat.”
“All along, I have stated my intention to put Louisiana's best interests forward as I serve as the state's chief legal officer. I will not cower to executive overreach; rather, I will continue to defend our constitution and the will of the people,” he said.
Ruth Wisher, press secretary for Landry, disputed that. Article 4, section 8, of the Louisiana Constitution clearly explains the attorney general’s constitutional obligations, she told the Louisiana Record.
In part, it reads: “There shall be a Department of Justice, headed by the attorney general, who shall be the chief legal officer of the state.”
Wisher said Landry is proceeding with the will of the Louisiana Legislature.
“It's unfortunate that the governor continues to want to push for a protected class that the legislature has six times – with bipartisan support – rejected,” Landry said in a statement. “I look forward to defending the Legislature and their priorities and their wishes.”
Richard Carbo, communications director for Edwards, told the Louisiana Record the Edwards' administration feels like they are doing the right thing.
“We think we’re on the right side of the law and the right side of history,” Carbo said. “At the end of the day, the governor is the CEO of the state.”
Carbo said he doesn’t know where other states fall on this issue or if there is precedent elsewhere.
“I don’t know that there is at this point,” he said, adding that the governor’s office was “focused squarely on issues in Louisiana.”