Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

How Louisiana’s new laws are pushing boundaries in culture wars

By 37ci3 Jun22,2024



In his first six months in office, Governor Jeff Landry has pushed a broad conservative agenda that has changed the cultural landscape of Louisiana. abortion rights from criminal justice to education.

It culminated this week with him signing the first law in the country He commanded that the Ten Commandments be placed in every public school classroom in the state.

“If you want to respect the rule of law, you have to start with the first lawgiver, Moses,” said Landry, a Republican. he said at the signing ceremony of the bill Tuesday at Lafayette.

He is drawing such a demonstration, which has caused criticism among Democratic lawmakers the threat of legal problems Criticism by civil liberties groups over its constitutionality could prove difficult in Louisiana, even when Republican Bobby Jindal last held the governor’s office eight years ago.

But now the state is moving to the forefront of a culturally conservative wave typically associated with states like Florida and Texas, said Pearson Cross, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Landry “sees this cultural struggle. He’s this culture warrior,” Cross said. “He’s comfortable with this and thinks it’s a good thing to be attacked or defended on these particular issues. It shows that he’s honest because he embraces the left.”

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who endorsed Landry’s campaign last year, wrote on the social media platform On Friday, the entire country must follow Louisiana’s lead by allowing the Ten Commandments in public schools.

It came after a major shift in state politics in early 2023 that allowed Landry’s agenda to surface during a speech by a Democratic lawmaker in northeast Louisiana in early 2023, political observers say. changed his political affiliation Gives Republicans, GOP majority in House of Representatives. Republicans already had one in the Senate, as well the election of former state attorney general Landry and the congressman consolidated the party’s control of the executive branch and both houses of the Legislature as governor last fall with veto-proof majorities.

“This is a unique moment in Louisiana politics where a very conservative Republican has been elected governor and has the support of both the House and the Senate,” Cross said. “We’ve had a Democratic governor for the last eight years, and now there’s a huge appetite for some of these conservative changes that wouldn’t have been accepted before.”

Landry succeeds term-limited Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards after winning in 2015 and 2019.

During his campaign, Landry made noise his support vowed to fight for the state’s near-total ban on abortion and to fight crime with tougher laws. In his first weeks in office, he called a special legislative session aimed at overhauling criminal justice.

Among the controversial bills he signed into law: authorizing the state using nitrogen gas as capital punishment; repealing the “raising of age” law so that all 17-year-olds charged with a crime will be treated as adults; essentially eliminating parole with few exceptions; and a law allowing residents 18 and older to carry a concealed handgun without a permit goes into effect next month.

Another bill signed the law Landry’s bill this week would allow judges to order some sex offenders convicted of crimes against children to undergo surgical castration — a first in the country. The law comes into force in August. Other states, including Louisiana, legalize chemical castration for certain sex crimes.

The bill was proposed by Democrats, but it was overwhelmingly opposed by Democrats and supported by Republicans.

And in another move that continues to put Louisiana in a unique position, Landry signed Last month, the measure legalized two drugs used to induce abortions — mifepristone and misoprostol — are included in the state’s list of controlled dangerous substances.

The law prohibits the possession of drugs without a valid prescription or prescription from a medical professional shall be punished by imprisonment for up to five years. Although pregnant people who obtain the drugs for their own consumption will not face criminal charges under the law, medical experts have criticized the law, saying the drugs are used outside of labor and delivery assistance, infertility treatment and abortion treatment. prevention of gastrointestinal ulcers.

In a statement, Landry said the law is “nothing but common sense” and “protects women across Louisiana.”

But legal experts say further criminalizing the act in new ways doesn’t provide deterrence and won’t reduce Louisiana’s prison population. highest incarceration rates in the country and disproportionately affects Black people, according to Vera Institute of Justice.

“The crime special session was primarily about punishment, not crime prevention,” said William Snowden, an associate professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. “Governor Landry is trying to use old keys to open new doors, despite examples of how to best improve public safety in our state.”

Social and cultural issues are not the only concern.

Steven Procopio, president of the Louisiana Public Affairs Research Council, which advocates for fiscal responsibility and government transparency, said groups like his are concerned after the governor proposed a bill that would limit access to public records.

But the bill was withdrawn last month by its author, a Republican senator, after concerns about government openness.

Procopio said the massive public outcry helped reverse course, showing how lawmakers can waver.

“People are really upset about some of the extensive attempts to tamper with public records,” he said.

Procopio said there are other issues, including Landry’s control over the state Board of Ethicsit remains the governor’s concern attempt to revise the state constitution can be positive. Still, he hopes Louisianans will invest in what’s happening with their government.

“People need to know what’s going on so they can express their likes or dislikes. But if things are done in secret, democracy starts to fall apart,” Procopio said. “These changes related to ethics or public records are really nonpartisan politics. If you can’t comply, you can’t successfully lobby your own government.”



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