Award

Susan honored as Mississippi Center for Justice 2016 Champion of Justice

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Recently, Susan served as a member of “The Courageous Thirteen” who launched a broad-based challenge (Barber v. Bryant) to strike down H.B. 1523 in its entirety. H.B. 1523 (aka Religious Liberty Bill) was a controversial measure that allowed blatant discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and families in Mississippi. You can read about the bill and its opposition here. Mississippi Center for Justice honored Susan as a Champion of Justice for her role as a plaintiff. (October 6, 2016)

“Plaintiffs represented by Roberta A. Kaplan sued in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. On June 27, 2016, U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves entered a permanent injunction blocking HB 1523’s provision allowing county clerks to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses. On June 30, 2016, hours before the law was to come into force, Judge Reeves issued a preliminary injunction blocking the rest of HB 1523. In a sixty page opinion finding that the law violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, Judge Reeves notes HB 1523 singles out Leviticus 18 while ignoring Leviticus’s other prohibitions, such as mixing wool and linens.

Judge Reeves further compares Governor Bryant’s opposition to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision to Governor James P. Coleman’s opposition to the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

On July 13, 2016, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced his office would not pursue an appeal of Judge Reeves’ ruling. In a statement, Hood said, ‘… all HB 1523 has done is tarnish Mississippi’s image while distracting us from the more pressing issues of decaying roads and bridges, underfunding of public education, the plight of the mentally ill and the need to solve our state’s financial mess.’ Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has retained the services of a private attorney, Drew Snyder, to continue the appeal in Federal court using private funds.”

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