Mississippi "Legalizes" Ignoring The Supreme Court

Illustration for article titled Mississippi Legalizes Ignoring The Supreme Court

Mississippi enacted the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Fuck Yeah America No Fatties Act.


This patriotically jingoistically-named law seeks to permit Mississippi to ignore the Supreme Court's holding in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which held that with respect to religion, facially neutral laws of general applicability do not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. In other words, you can't disobey a law (like ENDA or those parts of the ACA mandating coverage for hormonal birth control) and claim that obeying the law would violate your religious beliefs.

The complete text of the law as passed can be found here.

This law would provide an affirmative defense to any action to enforce a law such as ENDA or the ACA.


The problem with this law is that the Supremacy Clause exists. Federal law trumps state law. There was a war fought over this and the States' Rights crowd lost.

Specifically, in Edgar v. MITE Corp., 457 U.S. 624 (1982), the Supreme Court ruled that "A state statute is void to the extent that it actually conflicts with a valid Federal statute". In effect, this means that a State law will be found to violate the Supremacy Clause when either of the following two conditions (or both) exist: 1) Compliance with both the Federal and State laws is impossible; 2) "[S]tate law stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress."


Obviously, this new state law not only meets both conditions, but appears to have expressly been written to meet both conditions. The law was written to be unconstitutional.

Personally, I would like to see a law enacted providing a right of recovery for "legislative malpractice" by a state in an action on behalf of its people. Such a law would hold legislators personally financially liable to indemnify the state for the cost of enactment, enforcement, and defense of those laws that were willfully and contumaciously drafted so as to violate the Constitution.

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