Federal Judge Overturns HB 1523

U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves blocked House Bill 1523 from going into effect following the state legislature’s passage during the 2016 Legislative Session. Under the bill, businesses would have been allowed to deny services based on sincerely held religious beliefs without facing reciprocity from the state. Individuals would still be able to bring suit against such businesses but the state would remain neutral.

Judge Reeves’ injunction asserts that the law violates the U.S. Constitution in two places:

  1. The First Amendment by “establish[ing] an official preference for certain religious beliefs over others,” and
  2. The Fourteenth Amendment by explicitly favoring “anti-LGBTG religious beliefs” and providing adherents to those beliefs a special right to discriminate that is not available to others.

Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood believes the federal court ruling was clear and does not expect to appeal. No other officials’ comments were available.

This is not the first time Judge Reeves has ruled on religious freedom issues. In July 2015, he issued a court order to prevent Rankin County School District (RCSD) from including any religious activities at school sponsored events. After receiving a $7,500 fine after failing to satisfactorily comply with the court order, the RCSD prevented the Brandon High School Band from playing “How Great Thou Art” during a halftime show fearing that such an act would violate the court order and subject the district to additional fines.

Although born in Texas, Reeves grew up in Yazoo City and was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi by President Obama in 2010.

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Are rights from God. . . or man?

The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .”

Thomas Jefferson acknowledge the foundation of true liberty by asking, “God, who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

Jefferson was keenly aware of a threat that now challenges the basic fabric of our country. While interviewing with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore on gay marriage issues before the U.S. Supreme Court, CNN host Chris Cuomo stated, “Times change, definitions change” and then claimed, “Our [rights] do not come from God Your Honor and you know that. They come from man.”

Moore kept his responses based on the Declaration of Independence which has been defined by law to be the organic law, or foundational law, of the United States. Cuomo objected, “Our rights do not come from God. That’s your faith, that’s my faith, but that’s not our country.” Moore reiterated that his position is not based on faith but on U.S. laws.

See a short segment of the interview at CNSNews.com or the entire interview from CNN’s New Day:

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2014 State and National General Election Summary

The 114th U.S. Congress started earlier this month following a wild 2014 midterm election. The following websites capture those 2014 election results in various formats and perspectives:

2014 Election results by Congressional District (Courtesy of the New York Times).

2014 Election results by Congressional District (Courtesy of the New York Times).

The Gospel silenced on CNN

On Friday, Nov. 28th, New Orleans Saints Tight End Ben Watson went on CNN to explain his opinion about the events in Ferguson, Missouri.  He does a great job explaining that the root of problems in the world, including those in Ferguson, is “not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem.” His personal and impassioned essay was originally written to vet his own emotions and thoughts on the results of the grand jury and riots in the St. Louis suburb but he posted it to Facebook after his wife encouraged him to do so.

During the interview, Watson begins to preach that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only solution to the sin problem.  Not coincidentally, the video feed is cut before he can proclaim the full death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to redeem man from sin.

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Cochran declared winner of runoff

The Associated Press declared Sen. Thad Cochran the victor in Mississippi’s heated Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate.  With 99.9% of precincts reporting, Cochran led with 50.8% of the vote and just over 6,000 more votes than Chris McDaniel.  The June 24th runoff was truly remarkable with more than 60,000 votes being cast than in the June 3rd Primary (in an off-year election, no less).

CNN reported, “Cochran’s backers turned to Democrats, especially African-Americans, who make up 37% of the state’s population.”  Breitbart added, “[A]allegations flew that Cochran allies were using ‘walking around money’ to incentivize Democrats to the polls.  Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole, for instance, said Cochran operatives were paying people in the black community to donate to Cochran.”  Such reports may inspire a McDaniel challenge since anyone who voted in the June 3rd Democrat Primary are ineligible to vote in the Republican runoff in accordance with state law (Mississippi Code § 23-15-575).

In accordance with Mississippi Code § 23-15-599, the Republican Party must certify the primary election vote by July 4th (within 10 Days of the election).

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Mississippi runoff election information

Neither Thad Cochran nor Chris McDaniel earned “50% +1” of the vote in the June 3rd primary election so the Republican Party will conduct a runoff election June 24th.  In accordance with MS Code § 23-15-305, a primary candidate must have a majority of the vote cast to represent their party in the primary election.  For an interesting history on the provision, read the Washington Post’s “Runoff elections a relic of the Democratic South.”

The Clarion-Ledger identified the following rules for runoff elections in their June 4th report:

  • Voters who didn’t vote in Tuesday’s primary election can vote in the June 24 runoff election
  • If a person voted in the Democratic primary Tuesday, he or she can’t vote in the June 24th Republican runoff or vice versa
  • If a voter voted in the Republican primary, the voter can vote in the Republican runoff

A voter in the Democrat primary cannot participate in the Republican primary runoff due to provisions of MS Code § 23-15-575.  This statute states, “No person shall be eligible to participate in any primary election unless he intends to support the nominations made in the primary in which he participates.”  By voting in the Democrat Primary, the voter has already pledged their General Election vote to the Democrat nominee.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann simplified the information above on the Paul Gallo Radio Show by stating, “Let’s put it this way, people who voted in the Democratic primary, they’re all about 100,000 of them, they can’t vote in the Republican primary.  Everybody else can. . . Everyone who didn’t vote. . . have at it.”  This presumes that the voter was eligible and registered to vote for the June 3rd primary.

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2014 primary election results

The Democrats settled their nominees Tuesday evening. Travis Childers took 74% of the vote to face the Republican nominee for the Mississippi’s U.S. Senate seat.  Matt Moore defeated Trish Causey 6,131 to 4,900 to be the Democrat nominee for the 4th Congressional District.

The Republican Primary was a much different story. At last tally, Rep. Steven Palazzo leads 52,962 to Gene Taylor’s 45,186 and appears to have just over 50% of the vote.  Palazzo claimed victory late Tuesday night but the Taylor campaign is still holding-out for a possible runoff.

The race for the Republican spot for U.S. Senate remains undetermined. Little consideration was given to Thomas Carey, a third candidate in the primary who drew just enough votes (1.7%) to prevent either Sen. Thad Cochran or Chris McDaniel from obtaining the required “50% +1” of the vote necessary to win the party nomination. It is still possible for McDaniel to win outright but all indications point to a runoff election on June 24th.

Sam R. Hall of the Clarion-Ledger is already predicting a McDaniel win if a runoff is required. Hall points to the excitement of the McDaniel supporters and the lack of momentum in the Cochran campaign as the biggest indicators.

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