SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined an amicus brief, led by the State of Texas, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Jackson Municipal Airport Authority v. Harkins. The case involves the application of legislative privilege in an ongoing challenge to a state law that restructured a local agency.
Back in 2016, the State of Mississippi enacted SB 2162 to restructure governance of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, giving the surrounding counties and the state voices on an expanded panel. When dissatisfied Authority members sought access to internal legislative documents about the new law’s enactment, the district court ruled against the legislature. The court concluded that “the Legislators had waived their claim that certain documents were shielded from disclosure by the legislative privilege” and that “the Legislators [were compelled] to produce a privilege log.” The legislators appealed to the Fifth Circuit.
In their brief, the attorneys general raise two arguments. First, that the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the new law because they lack tenure protections. Second, that if the Court decides the plaintiffs do have standing, the judges “should reaffirm the legislative privilege’s broad protections.” The attorneys general also explain that the legislative privilege “reinforces representative democracy by fostering an environment where public servants can undertake their duties without the threat of personal liability or the distraction of incessant litigation.”
Joining Utah and Texas on the brief were the States of Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, and South Carolina.