Governor, AG court hearing over LGBT executive order delayed

Gov. John Bel Edwards and AG Jeff Landry (Image Credit: WAFB)
Gov. John Bel Edwards and AG Jeff Landry (Image Credit: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – The lawyers for the governor and attorney general agreed Wednesday to delay a court hearing over an anti-discrimination executive order by nearly two weeks.

Attorney General Jeff Landry is trying to get a judge to block a controversial executive order the governor signed back in April. It ensures protections for members of the LGBT community in most state contracts. Contracts with religious organizations are exempted.

Landry has called the order unconstitutional and claimed the governor is effectively making state law. Several anti-discrimination bills failed to gain traction at the Capitol in the spring.

“Gov. Edwards has done precisely done the same thing that Gov. Edwards complained that Gov. Jindal did, and that is exceed his authority as the chief executive officer,” said Elizabeth Murrill, a member of the civil division in the AG’s office.

The governor’s office meanwhile said the AG is merely playing politics and is overstepping his power.

“He is allowed to set policy within the executive branch,” said Matthew Block, special counsel in the governor’s office. “Within the executive branch, if you are a constitutional officer or work for him, he does not believe you should discriminate against your own employees.”

A week ago, the governor asked for the court to define the AG’s official role in state government.

When a sheriff’s deputy attempted to issue papers to the AG on Monday, no one on his legal team was around to receive them, according to the governor’s office. They did not accept the paperwork until Tuesday, which may have played a role in delaying the proceedings.

“It was never really a point of contention for us, we just didn’t want to have the hearing scheduled until we had time to respond to the pleadings,” Murrill said.

“We were ready to go today and all they had to say is, ‘Judge, we’ll be ready, too,” and we could have heard the whole issue today, but they objected to it,” said Block, suggesting the AG’s office used a legal maneuver to delay that hearing.

As a result, both the question of whether the executive order is constitutional and what the role of the AG is in state politics will be answered in the same hearing.

The new court proceeding at the 19th JDC is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 29.

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