BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana's Governor and Attorney General faced off in court again Tuesday, the second round in a fight over one of the governor's
That order, signed in April 2016, aimed to protect gay and transgender state workers and contractors. However, AG Jeff Landry objected to the order and called it an example of executive overreach.
Back in December, District Court Judge Todd Hernandez ruled that the LGBT protections order was unconstitutional because it effectively tried to create state new law. Since then, the order has not been enforced.
The governor appealed that ruling, leading to Tuesday's hearing before a three-judge panel in the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
During the hearing, Matthew Block, executive counsel for Gov. John Bel Edwards, asked the judges to overturn the lower court's ruling, arguing that Hernandez got it wrong.
"It's absolutely within the scope, it's within the governor's authority," Block said in an interview after the hearing.
However, in court the AG's lawyer Elizabeth Murrill fired back, saying the order is an example of the governor stepping out of bounds. She told the judges that while "there are a number of other statewide officials who are not under the direction of the governor … I think that the governor believes that they are."
In recent years, state legislators have repeatedly killed bills carving out protections for the LGBT community. The governor signed the anti-discrimination order in April 2016 as a sort of "go-around." Such orders do not require legislative approval.
"We've had state employees who have come to us that have said, I now feel I can be honest about who I am, because the governor said I won't get fired if I do, if I reveal that to my employer or where I work," Block said in an interview.
However, the AG balked at the order and held up state contracts that would have otherwise included the anti-discrimination clause. Ultimately, they ended up in court for the first-time last fall.
As part of the hearing, lawyers also feuded over what powers the governor and the AG have over contracts.
For Edwards and Landry, public fights are nothing new. They have clashed both in and out of court since they both took office. Landry is considered a possible contender in the 2019 gubernatorial race against Edwards.
The judges on that panel did not make a ruling in this case Tuesday. An exact timeline on that decision is not known. Regardless of how the ruling goes, it is very possible that the losing side will appeal. That means the case could possibly end up before the state supreme court.