Legislators must give testimony in Fayetteville rights case UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Legislators must give testimony in Fayetteville rights case UPDATE

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 4:04 PM

Interim word from the hearing in Circuit Court in Fayetteville in which the ACLU and others are challenging the constitutionality of the state law that prevents cities from adopting civil rights ordinances to protect gay people.

So far, reports Holly Dickson of the Arkansas ACLU, Judge Doug Martin has ruled that Sen. Bart Hester and Rep. Bob Ballinger, leaders of the effort to protect gay discrimination, must give depositions (sworn, out-of-court testimony) and the state must work with the challengers on other discovery requests.

The judge is now taking up the state's request for an injunction against enforcement of the civil rights ordinance that Fayetteville adopted to extend nondiscrimination protection in employment, housing and services to a variety of protected classes but notably barring discrimination on account of sexual orientation or gender.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the state local pre-emption law, but has not yet weighed the U.S. constitutional challenge of a law designed to protect discrimination.

UPDATE: Dickson reports the judge has denied a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the ordinance. In theory, that means the ordinance may be enforced.

But the state and challengers of the ordinance will appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Given its current animus toward civil rights, I'd predict, at a minimum, the Supreme Court will look more kindly on an injunction while the constitutionality is deliberated.

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