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Toilet Tussle

Louisiana Sues Feds Over Bathroom Directive, JBE and Landry Feud

The state of Louisiana is part of a lawsuit filed against the Obama administration, positing that a directive allowing transgender students in public schools to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity lacks any authority. However, the state government, itself, is embroiled in an internal war over LGBT rights.


The filing accuses the federal government of “running roughshod over commonsense policies.” Louisiana is joined in the suit by eight other states – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin – as well as the governor of Maine, Paul R. LePage; the Arizona Department of Education; and school districts in Arizona and Texas.


“For too long, the Federal government has directed education policy to the detriment of Louisiana’s students,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry in a statement. “I will not allow Washington to wreak further havoc on our schools.”


It is unclear whether Governor John Bel Edwards also supports the suit. His office did not respond to a request for comment before press time. However, the pair are in the midst of a high profile feud centered around LGBT rights.


In April, Edwards issued an executive order (JBE 2016-011) aimed at protecting the rights of LGBT citizens. According to the governors office, employers can no longer discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, disability, or age. The order does include an exemption for churches and religious organizations.


However, Landry took exception to the act, issuing a delayed response on Tuesday (5.25). He clearly is opposed to the move due to end-effect, but chose a more historic attack on executive orders themselves. “JBE 2016-011 goes beyond merely filling in the enforcement gaps surrounded and defined by statutory legislation and exceed statutory authority by attempting to create new legislation in violation of the separation of powers,” stated Landry in a release. “The Governor's constitutionally valid function is to see that the laws are faithfully executed and enforced, not to make any of the laws, which, constitutionally is the legislative power and function.”


Edwards wasted no time in issuing a rebuttal. Hours later, he released his own statement. “The attorney general has overstepped the authority given to his office, and he is now, attempting to erode the constitutionally granted executive order power of the governor and is disrupting the work of state agencies,” da Gov’ wrote. “…More importantly, this executive order, for the first time, was written in a way that respects the religious beliefs of every single person in Louisiana. Discrimination, of any kind, is not a Louisiana value, and I will do everything in my power, including enforcing this order, to foster a productive and welcoming work environment in Louisiana’s state government.”

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