At the beginning of the month, The First Circuit Appellate Court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, upheld the overturning of Governor John Bel Edwards’ executive order protecting LGBTQ+ people employed in the state government. The executive order was declared in violation of the Louisiana Constitution’s Separation of Powers Doctrine. Though most likely politically motivated, it is important to note the overturning rests on the supposed unconstitutionality of the order rather than on the content.
That being said, this overturn and subsequent upholding was done with the motive of keeping LGBTQ+ protections out of law and giving the Attorney General of Louisiana Jeff Landry more power in the government. The implications of this are terrifying. The overruling may rest on the idea of a governor abusing his power, but the motivation behind it is a reactionary force pushing back against even the most basic of protections for the vulnerable in society.
This executive order was nothing too radical, and it even included exemptions for religious organizations that thought these protections would violate their beliefs. It simply offered basic protections to which all American citizens are entitled.
In fact, most Republican contractors and statewide elected officials have complied with this order without complaint, Landry being the main exception. This court battle is not about a governor overstepping boundaries but rather about an attorney general leveraging his position to deny basic civil rights to a group of people he opposes. This situation speaks to one of the main difficulties in a system of checks and balances.
Checks and balances are critical for any democracy. They make sure no one person can obtain too much power and unconstitutional laws cannot take hold. But, like any system in any democratic institution, this can be abused. Landry has taken advantage of these checks and balances to push a political cause.
His reason for challenging the executive order was not to uphold the complex legal structures in America but rather to challenge a political action to which he was personally opposed.
In an attempt to stop governmental overstep, Landry himself overstepped in his own use of governmental power. Using his power to pursue the overturning of a landmark executive order broke conduct and revealed his attempt to turn the attorney general’s office into a bully pulpit to control the governor and any other legislation that goes against his conservative viewpoint. His actions do not come from a love of the Constitution, but rather from his desire for control.
All states in the U.S. have a moral and legal obligation to protect the intrinsic rights of their citizens. When forces exist within our own government that want to deny rights to our fellow citizens, action needs to be taken to stop these men and women.
All citizens of Louisiana need to take action to elect representatives who will actually uphold their intrinsic values. Tulane students are in a unique position here in which they can make actual change. Students need to take all paths available to them to make sure their representatives actually protect the needs of the people, not cross constitutional boundaries.
This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Quinn is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]