Scared to death that he will ascend to the state’s top spot in 2023, the Louisiana political left’s long knives have come out for Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, aided by sympathetic media mouthpieces.
Landry convincingly leads in fundraising for that election cycle over any other sitting official or declared candidate, and it’s a great bet that he hasn’t collected $2 million or so just to run for reelection. As a staunch conservative, he would prove a nightmare to the left that barely hangs onto relevancy in the state currently with only Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards in the way to thwart reform efforts.
So, liberals look for every opportunity to cast aspersions, any aspersions, onto Landry. By way of example, they’ve snagged a couple of recent issues to serve that purpose.
Recently, Landry announced discipline against a then-employee for inappropriate workplace behavior in regards to the opposite sex. A male staffer behaved boorishly, but not in a way that an independent investigatory firm found constituted sexual harassment. Landry docked his pay heftily and ordered the guy to undergo extra training on workplace ethics, so considering no harassment occurred it wasn’t a big deal. (The employee quit shortly thereafter as more allegations came forward.)
But it became a bigger deal when a reporter from the Baton Rouge Advocate, having inquired initially about the details but was told to wait until the matter’s resolution, persisted with the public records request when that happened. Landry then sued to prevent release under Louisiana law, which doesn’t expressly prohibit release of employee discipline information and related case materials, but which has been subject to varying, if not contradictory, judicial rulings regarding its permissibility that sometimes argued for a balancing test on a case-by-case basis.
Against this background, Landry thought that making some information public might discourage future valid complaints. Prior to the suit, he even asked for judicial guidance on his action. And while ultimately the trial court disagreed and said the material needed releasing on request, Republican District Judge Tim Kelley noted the sensibility of Landry’s course and refused to find for any monetary award to the reporters.
That the original affair hadn’t turned into a huge Louisiana State University Title IX-like scandal and that the court had determined Landry acted reasonably was too much for some on the left. The editor of the Louisiana Illuminator, a journalism website backed by leftist donors, the woke-before-woke-was-trendy Jarvis DeBerry, blew a gasket over the ruling that didn’t rake Landry over the coals.
Undoubtedly, over the next two-plus years the left with media cooperation will bring up the incident, albeit described selectively to make Landry’s actions look worse than reality dictates. But that won’t nearly be enough to derail his political ambitions, so other means will have to be manufactured.
One such example comes from Landry’s attempts to defend a law restricting abortion passed by the Louisiana Legislature, and signed by the liberal Edwards, in the past five years. The culmination of the attempts – most involving Landry appealing adverse rulings but for the last one defending against an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court – led to it not upheld as constitutional.
As a result, because the winners would have their legal fees reimbursed, the state will owe several million dollars in attempting to make abortion safer (the laws dealt with restrictions over who may cause abortions and where). This has triggered the increasingly unhinged and most nakedly leftist Advocate writer (who also writes state government news stories as head of its Capitol Bureau), Mark Ballard.
He wrote a subtle screed complaining about that, working in insinuations from ideological fellow-travelers that the defense wasted money and played favoritism. One wonders why Ballard didn’t write such an opinion piece when Edwards blew taxpayer dollars in issuing a series of unconstitutional executive orders illegally expanding the powers of his office that Landry successfully countered.
Addressing the cases at hand, these were dollars well spent. It’s hard to put a price on a legitimate purpose like protecting women and saving human lives, especially when state government wastes far larger sums hand over fist, such as $69 million a year to discourage more productive work (preparing to double starting this year) or $180 million a year to make movies.
More specifically, in that final case settled by the Court last year, a majority was ready to rule in Louisiana’s and Landry’s favor, but potential deciding vote Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that he couldn’t while respecting what was in his view precedent. He signaled for even a slightly different case that he would rule in favor of Landry’s position.
Landry may not bring that case, but somebody else will and, unless the Court’s composition changes dramatically in the near future to one much more willing to substitute judicial fiat for democratically-made law and constitutional fidelity, his rejected case will become a building block to accomplishing elsewhere what Louisiana tried. And then Louisiana can write a slightly different law fitting that. Again, that will make for money well spent.
However, until that happens, look for selective memory to typify Landry’s leftist interrogators on this and any other similar thing they can fathom. When you’re this afraid of a future outcome, it’s never too early to start throwing any and every thing against the wall in hopes that something will stick.