May 23, 2019
If the pro-abortion crowd is trying to spook Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R), they'll have to try harder. If there's one thing the Magnolia State leader doesn't do, it's scare easily. When he signed one of the earliest abortion bans into law this year, he expected it to be challenged. But he never once thought that was a good reason not to press on.
For Mississippi, the storyline feels eerily similar. State passes a conservative law. Liberals sue. State ends up in court against the same judge -- U.S. District court activist Carlton Reeves. In Bryant's case, it's almost comical. Reeves has presided over the heartbeat bill, a 15-week abortion ban, the religious liberty measure. Even Governor Bryant's attempt to expand the airport commission suddenly ended up in this same judge's lap. "Every case with my name on it -- Reeves gets all of them," the governor told me on Wednesday's "Washington Watch."
So it wasn't all that surprising, then, that the judge didn't bother hiding his liberal leanings. What was surprising, though, is how openly confrontational Reeves was about a law that was democratically passed. "It was somewhat shocking to hear a federal judge... literally chastise the attorneys and members of the Mississippi legislature for doing the will of the people," Bryant said. After all, "This is a republic, not a dictatorship. And the people of a republic speak through their elected officials" -- who, he points out, overwhelmingly voted to protect life. "We believe that taking the life of that unborn child is murder. So if you cannot stand for the life of an unborn child, I'm not sure what we will be allowed to stand for."
With a string of pro-life legislation catching fire all across the South and Midwest, the abortion lobby is spending an unusual amount of time in court -- even for them. "That's the way the Left today works," Bryant pointed out.
"They can't beat you at the ballot box. They can't beat you on the floor of your legislature with the legislative process. So they sue you, and then they go to their friends in the media who begin their attack, and then all the online troll join in. But, you know? It doesn't faze me. I'm going to do what's right every time."
That's one of the things Mississippians will miss when the governor finishes up his second term. For him, the fight for the unborn was always deeply personal. "You know, I started life as a deputy sheriff. You and I were in law enforcement. We were trained to put our lives in front of the lives of people -- even [if we lost ours]... We rushed into dangerous situations to try to save lives. So I know what my responsibility is for an unborn child -- whether it's a child in the womb or two-year-old that's in danger... and if it means going to the United States Supreme Court, we are going to do that."
No matter what happens, or what the court decides, "I'll be able to return to my private life and knowing that I've done all that I could do." Because in the end, he said, people may not agree with where he stands -- but they know where he does. And in battles like this, sometimes that's all that matters.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.