The Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear an appeal of Mississippi’s “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” allowing a lower court ruling in favor of the law to stand, ensuring religious freedom in the the Magnolia State.
The state legislature passed the law to give religious-minded citizens the freedom to not violate their conscience. The legislation does not allow a business owner to refuse service discriminately, but provides protections if someone declines to participate in a ceremony or event that might go against their religious beliefs.
Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed the bill into law in April 2016. The ACLU immediately sued the state, claiming that the legislation is discriminatory.
District Judge Carlton Reeves struck down part of the law in June 2016, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision. The court ruled that the plaintiffs could not “show clear injury-in-fact that satisfies the ‘irreducible constitutional minimum of standing,'” Life Site News notes.
The case then went to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear it, solidifying the Fifth Circuit’s ruling.
According to Life Site News, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has banned state employees from travel to Mississippi in response to the Freedom of Conscience Act.
Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot of the Alliance Defending Freedom praised the decision. “We are pleased that the Supreme Court declined to take up these baseless challenges,” he said. “Those who haven’t been and won’t be harmed by this law shouldn’t be allowed to restrict freedom for others.”
He explained that the purpose of the law was to ensure that citizens “don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union.”
The Supreme Court declined to comment on why they chose not to hear the case, though it has been theorized that it could influence other religious cases including the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.