April 7, 2016
Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking her to review the House Bill 1523, file a lawsuit against Mississippi and declare the bill unconstitutional, which Gov. Bryant signed into law http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2016/apr/05/total-infringement-governor-signs-hb-1523-over-pro/">on Tuesday. Below is the press release and the letter reproduced in full.
“Today, I sent a letter to United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to examine Mississippi House Bill No. 1523, the so-called “religious freedom” act, and file suit against the State of Mississippi for the overreaching, unconstitutional, and blatantly discriminatory piece of legislation.”
“The discriminatory bill that the governor signed into law yesterday places a dark cloud over the State of Mississippi and will harm the state in business, industry, academics and reputation. I implore the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to act swiftly on my request and work to make sure justice and equality prevail.”
Letter text below:
April 6, 2016
The Honorable Loretta E. Lynch Attorney General U.S. Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Lynch:
On April 5, 2016, Governor Phil Bryant of the State of Mississippi signed into law the so-called “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” This law purports to protect Mississippians from discrimination by government officials for practicing/observing their religious beliefs. A cursory review of MS House Bill No. 1523, reveals that this bill does no such thing: instead, it gives employers, business owners, and any other person or entity in Mississippi the explicit right to discriminate against anyone with a lifestyle they disagree with in the name of religion. Simply put, this is government-sanctioned discrimination.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funds. Here, an entire state has sanctioned discrimination against an entire LGBT population in MS. Moreover, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against an individual because they are associated with a person of a particular race, color, religion, sex or national origin. There are countless other laws and regulations on the books that prevent discrimination in one way or another. MS House Bill No. 1523 clearly violates all of those laws. Therefore, I strongly urge DOJ to institute a lawsuit to declare MS House Bill No. 1523 unconstitutional and in violation of the United States Constitution and the previously identified and other civil rights statutes, regulations and executive orders.
A copy of MS House Bill 1523 is enclosed. Again, I strongly urge DOJ, as soon as possible, to file a law suit and take any other appropriate action against the State of Mississippi to strike down this discriminatory law. If you have any questions, please contact Trey Baker, Counsel in my Washington, D.C., office at 202-225-5876 or at [email protected]. I look forward to your response.
Bennie G. Thompson Member of Congress