Over the weekend I read Judge Reeves’ entire opinion in which he issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the enactment or enforcement of HB 1523. It’s not a good look for Governor Phil Bryant and the state’s right-wing leadership.

Here are some key and interesting points from Judge Reeves’ opinion:

  • the State can’t promote one religious theory over another (p. 1);
  • the State violates the Establishment Clause when it advances any religion (p. 2);
  • HB 1523 violates religious neutrality and equal protection (p. 2);
  • 1523 was a direct response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell (p. 5);
  • Gov. Bryant sounds like JP Coleman and Ross Barnett [ouch!] (p. 9, n.6);
  • Will Manuel says 1523 violates the Establishment Clause (p. 16);
  • 1523 intended to benefit some citizens at the expense of LGBT and unmarried people (p. 21);
  • 1523 not rationally related to a legitimate end (p. 40);
  • Christians with contrary beliefs to 1523 become second class Christians (p. 48);
  • State is inserting itself into intra-faith doctrinal disputes (p. 52);
  • 1523 is subject to strict scrutiny (p. 52);
  • 1523 does not honor religious freedom or respect equal dignity of all Mississippians (p. 60); and
  • 1523 caused Mississippi to suffer widespread condemnation and economic boycotts (p. 59).

My Take:

Point of procedure! Judge Reeves is wise to listen to Will Manuel. He majored in pre-law at Mishippi State.

This is a legacy opinion for Judge Reeves. His opinion is thorough, comprehensive and convincing. It’s easy to envision him getting promoted to the 5th Circuit at some point in the future if a slot opens with a Democrat in the White House.

The chances of reversal on appeal are remote–close to zero. Historically, Mississippi goes to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to lose civil rights cases. But now days the State goes ahead and loses at the District Court level.

The State needs to go to the house. This has been bad enough already.