Civil rights attorney Robert J. Bittel says the Mississippi Civil Rights Act is at risk of being declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and he says the state’s civil law courts need to take a stand on whether the law is constitutional.
The Mississippi Civil Law Rules are a series of statutes passed by the state legislature in 1882 and passed in 1976.
In a ruling from the U and D Courts of Appeals in 2016, the courts said the law violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution because it imposes an undue burden on businesses.
Bitterly, the Mississippi NAACP filed a lawsuit in 2017 challenging the constitutionality of the state civil law.
The civil law rulings are now in jeopardy after a federal judge blocked enforcement of the injunction last week.
Bittleman, a partner at the law firm of Jones Day, said the ruling shows the courts have no jurisdiction over the Mississippi civil code.
“The U. S. Supreme Courts have never had any authority to declare the Mississippi constitution unconstitutional,” he said.
“This is an issue that’s really been on the table for a long time.”
Mississippi’s Civil Code is a text of laws and regulations that governs all aspects of the business, labor and commercial activities of the Mississippi state.
It has been in effect since 1796, when the first civil code was enacted by the legislature, and its enforcement is overseen by the Mississippi Courts of Civil Appeals.
In the wake of the ruling, Bittels attorneys said they are planning to file a petition in the U, D and Mississippi Courts with the Supreme Court to take the state courts’ position on whether or not the law should be declared unconstitutional.
BITTEL: Civil law rules in jeopardy because of Supreme Court ruling article In the meantime, the state has not taken the steps necessary to repeal the law.
Bittell said his clients are considering appealing the UCR ruling to the U the D Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
“We believe we can appeal,” he added.
Bettel, who was an attorney for the NAACP in the case, said his client plans to take legal action to defend the state against the federal court’s ruling.
“When the state is not enforcing its own civil code, then that is a serious problem for the state of Mississippi,” Bittell said.
The U.D. Court of Appeal did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.