Tag Archives: Phil Bryant

Mississippi in the Spotlight; HB1523, Standing, and You.

HB1523 is the little engine that could. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the Plaintiffs in the underlying matter did not have standing to pursue their case. The Court basically said those complaining had not been harmed.

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A brief reminder, HB1523 was aimed to prevent “government from interfering with people of faith who are exercising their religious beliefs …in matters of marriage.” Phil Bryant. The Governor said it would not allow the discrimination of anyone.

The debate essentially centers around two “competing” interests. Those in favor of the law – contend a small business owner, hardworking, toiling and of strong Christian conviction should not lose their business and livelihood due to getting sued for not baking a cake for a gay wedding. Those opposed to the law – state that this law affords no protections to a class in need of protection.

Interestingly, prior to this law, during its litigation and even to date, there has not been a reported instance of a small business in the State of Mississippi being sued or facing any consequences for refusing service to same-sex persons prior to this law. The Oregon case where a baker had a money judgment entered against him was due to the admitted violation of an Oregon State law and aggravating factors, including that  the baker published the Complaintant’s name, home address and personal phone number on FaceBook. The money damages were for violating Oregon State law and the emotional distress that accompanied the intended private complaint being publicly posted.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This provision applies to state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment.

The problem I see is that this law demands the respecting of an establishment of religion. It specifically allows state employees to discriminate against other citizens based upon a “sincerely held religious belief” or “moral conviction.” This means that the State employee whose job is to issue marriage licenses can refuse because they do not approve of you and/or your soon-to-be spouse.

The intent was to prevent same-sex marriage, but it could also prevent persons who were previously divorced from being married, persons pregnant out-of-wedlock who seek to be married, those that have had a child out of wedlock, and those having sex out of wedlock from getting married. These facts, by the way, are not an interpretation. The law provides for protection of these beliefs.

However, the plaintiffs complaining could not show that they had actually been harmed or discriminated against because of the law. Due to this, the 5th Circuit determined that they did not have the right to sue the State as they could show no harm. Case dismissed.

So, what’s next? This ruling will be appealed to the full panel before the 5th Circuit and in the meantime additional suits will be filed with aggrieved plaintiffs, I predict. However, is a law really a law if it doesn’t matter? Maybe all who seek will get their marriage licenses and all who desire a cake will get their cake and eat it too. Maybe Mississippi is better than our politicians deserve.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce Attorney encouraging you to believe in your beliefs, but follow the law.

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Just Checking…

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Marshall Ramsey sums up Mississippi’s current politico-religiosity in one frame.

Cutting You with a Gamma Knife; Dan Jones, Ole Miss, IHL and why you should care.

You would have had to have been under a rock, or just busy trying to work and make a living to have missed the news that has sent tremors through Oxford and the School up North.

http://bme240.eng.uci.edu/students/07s/sosechinskiy/GammaKnife.html

The Mississippi college board, known as the Mississippi Institutions for Higher Learning (IHL) has erupted in psuedo-scandal when the decision was made to not renew Dan Jones’ contract to be the continuing Chancellor of Ole Miss, and thereby overseer of the Medical School.

The brouhaha centers around his management of contracts that relate to UMMC and his lack of getting IHL approval of certain contracts.  It seems that personality conflicts have as much to do with the issues as it relates to “sloppy” contract oversight.

What seems undisputed is that no tax payer dollars were misappropriated and there was no self or backdoor dealings .

Conspiracy theories abound as to “Why?” Do Hank Bounds and Dan Jones hate each other?  Did Governor Phil Bryant want him out? Is Haley Barbour behind the scenes pulling strings?  The so-far-unanswered question is what is the real story.  Contract issues? Political favors? Or, is it the Gamma Knife?

The Gamma Knife is a $5 Million Dollar, stereotactic radiosurgical instrument that shoots 192 beams of cobalt-60 radiation, with pinpoint precision at brain tumors.  The med school bought one a few years back.  It turns out the space allotted for the Gamma Knife is not appropriate.  Essentially it will not fit through the door and the floor is not strong enough to support its weight.  So the Gamma Knife has been in the broom closet for 2 years. But, that’s not the whole story.  The Gamma Knife has also been the subject of litigation.  Another competitor with a Gamma Knife said that UMMC needed a Certificate of Need to get one and so they should be prohibited from using it.  This resulted in litigation which led to the Gamma Knife being sheathed, pending the litigation.  Ultimately, UMMC prevailed.

So what is the solution?  Regardless of the motives, the IHL’s own admission is that Dan Jones did not misappropriate any monies.  The mistakes were due to the mountains of contracts and the inefficiency of the school’s systems and procedures to manage those contracts at the time. All of which are fixed.  The Solution is for the IHL board to say it acted in haste, acting upon the best information available at the time and that upon further investigation that Mississippi is best served by Dan Jones carrying on. Dan Jones needs to take some heat for past inefficient handling of contracts and a promise to do right in the future.

Can this be done? Who knows? Are politics at play or is this really about contracts and following the rules? Why do you care? We care because “Did MS oust a good leader over politics?” Or is the IHL being the “watchdog” they portend to be?

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce Attorney and usually sticks to article about Family Law, but when given the opportunity to write about Gamma Knives, always takes a cut at it.  Watch Out! Or, Dan Jones might cut you with his Gamma Knife. 

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You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@BowTieLawyer.MS