TN Politics: New State Laws Test Constitutional Boundaries

Apr 5, 2019

The question over whether religious conservatives who receive public funding in Tennessee can discriminate against other citizens has hardly been laid to rest by the Supreme Court.

Republican lawmakers are trying to pass a new law that would permit adoption agencies to deny services to parents deemed morally unfit-- which lawmakers say includes LGBT parents and possibly athieists. 

While similar laws have been passed in other states, they specified that businesses that accept public funding could not discriminate. But Tennessee has yet to address concerns over the separation of church and state. 

Meanwhile, Republicans are divided over which proposed anti-abortion measure will be the least likely to face legal challenges. A so-called "Heartbeat Bill," would ban abortions after about six weeks -- which is about the time women often first learn that they are pregnant. Another bill, called a "trigger ban" would only take effect if the Supreme Court overrules Roe V. Wade, which evangelicals believe is inevitable given the Supreme Court's current majority of male conservatives. Proponents of the Heartbeat bill don't want to wait, however, and hope that this law would chip away at women's reproductive rights while stopping just short of starting a constitutional debate about whether those rights are being denied. 

Finally, lawmakers are taking an initial look at allowing public school teachers to carry concealed handguns into their classrooms in an effort to thwart attacks such as the once carried out in Parkland, Fl. by a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle. The bill's sponsor Ryan Williams said the state cannot afford to pay for security at every public school. 

Political analyst Otis Sanford joins us to talk about these issues.