On December 1, 2017, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) appealed a state appellate court decision holding that Executive Order JBE 2016 – 11, which seeks to protect the rights of lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender individuals, and other protected classes from discrimination by Louisiana agencies, departments and contractors was unconstitutional.
We previously reported that months after Governor Edwards signed JBE 2016 – 11, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and others challenged the order in a lawsuit filed in East Baton Rouge Parish that sought a permanent injunction, as well as a declaratory judgment that the executive order violated state law.
In December of 2016, the district court enjoined the executive order and declared it illegal as a matter of law, holding that the executive order “is a violation of the Louisiana Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine and an unlawful usurp of the constitutional authority vested only in the legislative branch of government.”
Governor Edwards appealed the December 14, 2016, order. Attorney General Landry opposed it and filed his own cross-appeal. On November 1, 2017, the Louisiana Court of Appeal, First Circuit, affirmed the district court’s finding that the order was unconstitutional, stating that the Court “agree[s] with the district court that the Governor’s Executive Order constituted an unconstitutional interference with the authority vested solely in the legislative branch of [Louisiana] state government by expanding the protections that currently exist in anti-discrimination laws rather than directing faithful execution of the existing anti-discrimination laws of this state.”
Governor Edwards has now appealed this ruling to the Louisiana Supreme Court for review. The governor’s appeal filing states his core argument:
“JBE 16-11 is simply a policy directive concerning state employment in the executive branch and the contractual provisions of state service. . . . It does not have the effect or force of law. It establishes a principle significant to Governor Edwards—that discrimination is not a Louisiana value—through a valid mechanism for issuing executive branch directives.”
The Louisiana Supreme Court will next decide whether to hear arguments on the governor’s appeal.