BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A battle between Governor John Bel Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry was decided Wednesday in district court, but the fight may still be brewing between the two top elected officials.
Wednesday's ruling was in favor of the state's top attorney, with Judge Todd Hernandez throwing out the governor's executive order protecting members of the LGBT community from workplace discrimination. The judge called the move unconstitutional. Landry said he is happy with the outcome and called it a win for the state constitution.
"It's important that we don't bring in the personalities and the feelings," he said. "We have to apply the law based upon that and I think the judge did a great job laying that out."
The governor was not pleased with the ruling and has already vowed to appeal. "At the end of the day, discrimination and bigotry, those are not Louisiana values and I think we need to move forward in a manner that's consistent with the executive order," Edwards said.
It is not the first time a Louisiana governor has issued a similar executive order. In fact, it's happened twice before, but Southern University law professor Chris Odinet said it is interesting the issue is now playing out in court.
"Unfortunately, it's been very much charged by the politics of the LGBT issue in Louisiana and the adversarial relationship between the governor and the attorney general have," Odinet said.
At the core of the executive order, the measure was meant to protect employees from being fired or discriminated against based solely on their sexual preference, but the AG believes the law seeks to create a new class of people that is not included in state law. He said the governor simply does not have that kind of power.
"We don't elect kings," Landry said. "We elect the governor to execute the law and we elect legislators to create the law. This is basic civics."
Odinet said his concern is the ripple effect the ruling may have on local government and even school boards across the state who have similar policies. "There are accrediting bodies for universities and certain degree programs that require those types of policies," Odinet said. "Does that mean that the institutions and those degree-gr anting departments can't comply?"
Odinet said he is hopeful the appeals process will deliver a different outcome.
"I hope that the court will take a step back from the heatedness of the politics and think about what exactly this executive order was seeking to accomplish and think deeply about unintended consequences of a very expansive ruling," he added.
Odinet said typically, the appeals process includes more judges and more research into the matter before a ruling is made. It also takes longer to complete, so it will likely be a while before a final decision is made.