Nine states led by Texas on Thursday
filed a legal brief in support of a controversial “religious
freedom” law in Mississippi.
Phil Bryant, Mississippi's Republican
governor, is appealing the July ruling that blocked the law hours
before it was set to take effect.
Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act
(House Bill 1523) allows businesses to deny services to LGBT people
based on their “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral
In the brief, Texas Attorney General
Ken Paxton and Republican officials from eight other states asked the
5th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the law.
“Americans have the right to
peacefully live and work according to their deeply held beliefs, in
accordance with the religious freedoms enshrined in our
Constitution,” Paxton wrote.
The law doesn't “discriminate on the
basis of sexual orientation,” Paxton added. “Rather, the law
creates a clear statutory prohibition on what is already forbidden
under the First Amendment: requiring a person 'to alter the
expressive content' of their private conduct.”
Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi are
overseen by the 5th Circuit. A ruling upholding the lower
court's order would threaten the plans of socially conservative
Republicans in Texas to pass similar laws when lawmakers return to
Austin in January.
The friend-of-the-court brief was
signed by Maine Governor Paul LePage and the attorneys general from
Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina and
Utah, the Austin