Appeals Court Upholds Equal Access To Interstate Commerce Law

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Tennessee Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed the constitutionality of a first-in-the-nation law, the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act.

The appeals court said, "Plaintiffs allege that a 2011 act of the General Assembly adding a definition of “sex” to the Tennessee Human Rights Act and creating the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act, now codified at Tennessee Code Annotated § 7-51-1801(1) & (2), violates the Equal Protection guarantees of the United States and Tennessee Constitutions.

"The trial court dismissed the action for lack of standing. We dismiss the claims of Plaintiffs Wesley Roberts and the Gay/Straight Alliance of Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School as moot where the Defendant Governor concedes that the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act does
not apply to Local Education Agencies or Tennessee schools. We affirm dismissal of the remaining Plaintiffs for lack of standing where they have failed to allege a discrete, palpable, cognizable injury in fact."

David Fowler, President of FACT and Family Action, praised the court's decision.

He said, "Litigation against the law was organized by homosexual, lesbian, and transgendered organizations who claimed that the law "injured" them by precluding them from advocating for special legal protections based on their sexual practices.

"The plaintiffs claimed that they were precluded from exercising their political rights contrary to the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Evans v. Romer (1994). In rejecting the claim, the Court of Appeals rightly said:

Unlike Amendment 2 in Romer, the [Interstate Commerce Protection Act] does not render political activity for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender] rights futile or impossible. It does not single out or prevent an entire class of persons from seeking favorable governmental action or from participating in the political process with respect to an issue of mutual concern. It does not render advocacy meaningless regardless of the LGBT’s community’s success in summoning the support of others to prevail on the legislature to repeal subsection (a) of the [Act].

"In other words, the Court of Appeals refrained from making a public policy decision, recognizing that such decisions are to be made under our constitution by the legislative branch of government. 

"And the Court rightly noted that the inability of any particular special interest group to convince legislators to "vote their way" is not a denial of their constitutional rights. In other words, they have "equal access" to the political process."



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