U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate smiles on Aug. 19, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. Wingate ruled Thursday, June 1, 2023, that the Mississippi chief justice cannot be a defendant in a lawsuit that challenges a state law dealing with appointed judges. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
Judge Henry Wingate criticized the law for being “constitutionally vague.” Once regulations are drafted by the Department of Public Safety, the judge said he would revisit the order.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate temporarily blocked a portion of Senate Bill 2343. The new Mississippi law, which was set to go into effect July 1st, outlines jurisdictional responsibilities for the Capitol Police in Jackson including allowing the permitting of protests within the Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID).
The CCID encompasses the area of downtown Jackson where state and federal buildings are located. The district was established in 2017.
In his opinion to block the legislation, Wingate criticized the law for being “constitutionally vague.”
The legislation states:
Written approval from the Chief of the Capitol Police or the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety shall be required before any event occurs which will take place on any street or sidewalk immediately adjacent to any building or property owned or occupied by any official, agency, board, commission, office or other entity of the State of Mississippi, or which can reasonably be expected to block, impeded or otherwise hinder ingress thereto and/or egress therefrom.
While the original law does not lay out rules and regulations for this clause, it does task the Department of Public Safety (DPS) with doing so.
Legal representation for DPS Commissioner Sean Tindell and Capitol Police Chief Bo Luckey, Chad Williams with the Attorney General’s office, said the injunction should be held off until the rules can be finalized by DPS. He indicated those would likely not be set until August.
“Nothing happens until Commissioner Tindell promulgates the regulations to make 2343 happen,” Williams told WLBT. “That hasn’t happened. [The court] can’t build a preliminary injunction on speculation.”
Judge Wingate did indicate to the parties involved on Thursday that if they were to do develop those regulations, he would consider revisiting the order.
The injunction will remain in place until lawsuits surrounding the legislation are resolved.
The legislation in question was accompanied by a more controversial bill, House Bill 1020, this past session. That law would have expanded CCID boundaries, increased Capitol Police jurisdiction, and established a lower court specifically for the CCID with temporary appointed judges.