Saturday, April 20, 2024

Louisiana’s Landry urges bond commission to cut off New Orleans until it enforces abortion laws

by BIZ Magazine

By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is urging the State Bond Commission to defer funding for New Orleans until local officials reverse a pledge not to enforce the state’s ban on abortion.

“The officials in New Orleans took an oath of office to support and enforce the laws of our state, yet they appear to have decided that some laws are not worthy of enforcement,” Landry said. “Nothing in the statutes, the city charter, or the state constitution permits these officials to blatantly ignore state law, conspire not to enforce it, and violate their oaths of office in this manner. In fact, our state constitution prohibits this very conduct.”

Landry penned a letter to Louisiana State Treasurer John Schroder, chairman of the State Bond Commission, on Tuesday in response to a pledge from New Orleans officials to ignore state laws that ban abortion under most circumstances.

The New Orleans City Council unanimously passed a resolution on July 7 that prohibited city officials and local law enforcement from using public funds or resources to enforce the state’s abortion trigger laws, which went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month.

Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams has also promised not to prosecute abortion providers, while Orleans Parish Sheriff Susan Hutson vowed to defy the law by refusing to accept any person into custody at the Orleans Justice Center who is arrested for violating the abortion ban.

“The City of New Orleans evidently believes that it has the authority to refuse to enforce laws validly enacted by the citizens of Louisiana through their elected representatives simply because certain city officials (city council, mayor, chief of police, sheriff, and district attorney) disagree with those laws,” Landry wrote to Schroder.

“As Attorney General and member of the Bond Commission, it is my belief that a parish or municipality should not benefit from the hard-working taxpayers of this state while ignoring laws validly enacted by the people through their representatives. In light of the city’s open defiance of the will of the people of Louisiana, I urge the Bond Commission to defer any applications for the City of New Orleans, Orleans Parish, and any local governmental entity or political subdivision under its purview,” the letter continued.

“In addition, any other funding that will directly benefit the City of New Orleans should also be paused until such time as the Council, Mayor, Chief of Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney have met with and affirmed that they will comply with and enforce the laws of this State and cooperate with any State officials who may be called upon to enforce them.”

Landry specifically cited proposals on the bond commission’s agenda for Thursday regarding the New Orleans Aviation Board’s North Terminal Project and lines of credit for the City of New Orleans.

The letter comes as the state is awaiting a decision on the future of a temporary restraining order currently blocking the state’s abortion ban from taking effect. East Baton Rouge District Judge Don Johnson left the restraining order in place after oral arguments on Monday in a lawsuit challenging the ban.

Attorneys for the Shreveport abortion clinic Hope Medical Group for Women and abortion advocates with Medical Students for Choice argue Louisiana’s abortion laws are unconstitutionally vague, while attorneys representing Landry and Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Courtney Phillips are defending the ban, which was passed by the Legislature with bipartisan support and signed by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Johnson gave both the defendants and plaintiffs until 10 a.m. Tuesday to submit proposed findings and judgements, and could issue a ruling in the case any time, though Landry said Monday he expects the lawsuit will eventually end up in the Louisiana Supreme Court.

“Many of you, including the governor, have gone on the record, casting votes in support of the very laws that these elected officials are blatantly and publicly refusing to uphold,” Landry wrote, referring to various lawmakers from both the Senate and House serving on the commission. “I ask that you and my fellow Bond Commission members join me in ensuring that the parishes and municipalities of this state comply with all laws of our state, especially those protecting the lives of the unborn.”

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