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Supreme Court refuses to hear cases challenging controversial Mississippi LGBT law

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court on Monday denied review [order list, PDF] in two cases challenging a Mississippi law that would permit businesses and government employees to deny services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to protect those individuals' sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions.

The bill, entitled "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination" [text], was passed in the Mississippi legislature in 2016. It primarily aims to "protect sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions" related to marriage and sex. Such protected beliefs are: "(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth." The bill also provides that under specified circumstances, the government may not take discriminatory action against a state employee for speech related to the protected religious beliefs and moral convictions. Such speech includes refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The plaintiffs of the two lawsuits (consolidated as one) argued the bill violates their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights because it endorses certain religious beliefs and discriminates against those who do not hold those same beliefs. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed [text, PDF] the district court's grant of an injunction, finding the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the lawsuit because they had not yet suffered injury as a result of the law.

The plaintiffs appealed the circuit court's decision, but the Supreme Court denied review without explanation.

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