Constitutional rights dispute between Governor, AG heading to court

By Mia Sims | Dec 2, 2016

BATON ROUGE – A dispute over an an executive order  by Gov. John Bel Edwards regarding LGBT discrimination language in state contracts is heading to court in showdown that may define the constitutional roles of the governor and attorney general.


The arguments of both parties on whether or not Edwards’ actions were constitutional will be heard by State District Judge Todd Hernandez on Tuesday.


The quarrel began in April when Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination in government and state contracts based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


Landry argues the order is unconstitutional because it seeks to establish a new protected class of people that doesn’t exist in law and that lawmakers have refused to add.


As a result, the case was brought to court by Landry in an attempt seek the judge’s verdict on whether or not Gov. Edwards' executive order was constitutional.  


“As the law reads, the legislature is the body responsible for making law, not the governor,” Ruth Wisher, press secretary for the attorney general’s office, told the Louisiana Record. “Therefore, General Landry believes the governor is overstepping his constitutional authority by attempting to create law through executive fiat.”

According to Wisher, those who are in accordance with Gov. Edwards' efforts must bring it to state legislators for their voices to be effectively considered.


“If the people of Louisiana want to create additional protected classes, they should bring that to the legislators where a clear legislative record can be established that supports such legislation," she said.


The ongoing dispute has stalled legal contracts, preventing the approval of those that provide health insurance for a number of state employees, retirees and family members.


Defending his order as legal, Edwards accuses Attorney General Jeff Landry of repeatedly overstepping his constitutional authority in trying to block compliance with the order.


“On several occasions since taking office in January, the attorney general has challenged the authority of the governor to direct legal proceedings of the state and has significantly interrupted the ability of the state and its agencies to properly manage legal matters,” Edwards' lawyer Matthew Block wrote in court documents.


The governor wants the judge to uphold the anti-discrimination language while also “defining the role and authority” of the attorney general.


Edwards attempted to sue Landry over his refusal to approve the legal contracts containing the LGBT-rights language, but lost. The judge in the case ruled that Landry has discretion in how his office reviews the legal contracts.


The arguments of both parties on whether or not Edwards’ actions were constitutional will be heard by State District Judge Todd Hernandez on Tuesday.

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