Judge Rules AG Landry Can Deny Contracts Containing Anti-discrimination Language
A Baton Rouge judge has ruled in favor of Attorney General Jeff Landry for his refusal to sign state contracts that protect against LGBT discrimination, in spite of an executive order signed by Governor John Bel Edwards in April. Legal analyst Clancy Dubos says Landry is clearly trying to make a political statement, and in this case the judge has agreed with him.
“The judge isn’t saying that these contracts are illegal. He’s simply saying that the Attorney General has the legal discretion of whether to accept any contract,” Dubos said.
Edwards filed the lawsuit in September because the AG has refused to sign upwards of 40 state contracts containing language that prevents discrimination against the LGBT community. The governor could appeal the court’s decision or file another lawsuit. Dubos says even after this ruling, it still remains to be seen how this will play out.
“Until there’s clarification either by the Supreme Court of the legislature, I think the issue is far from over,” Dubos said.
Judge Donald Johnson said state law is unclear about who has the final say regarding state contracts, but Edwards cannot force Landry to move contracts with this kind of provision forward. Dubos says Landry may have ulterior political motives in denying the contracts.
“It’s crystal clear that Attorney General Landry wants to run for higher office, probably governor, and I think he’s laying the ground work for his campaign right now,” Dubos said.
The Governor’s Office issued a statement in response to the defeat, saying it is in no way a ruling on the merits of the executive order, and he is reviewing his legal options.
"Today, the presiding judge ruled that the procedural device of a writ of mandamus was not the correct legal mechanism to resolve this issue. This was in no way a ruling on the merits of the executive order. The governor is reviewing his options, but he will not let this issue distract from the important issues facing our state today, nor will he allow state operations to be crippled by the injection of politics into the process of approving legal counsel."
Landry posted a statement on Twitter following the decision, applauding Judge Johnson for his attentiveness, preparation, and judgement.
“I applaud Judge Johnson for his attentiveness and preparation and for his learned decision and judgment. All along, I have stated my intention to put Louisiana’s best interests forward as I serve as the State’s chief legal officer. I will not cower to executive overreach; rather, I will continue to defend our Constitution and the will of the people.”