Keith Bardwell Resigns, Faces Lawsuit
Posted by shadmia on November 4, 2009
In the face unanimous and universal condemnation from politicians to civil rights organizations, Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell did what everyone was telling him to do – he resigned. Read the background story here.
The office of Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne said it had received a statement from Mr Bardwell saying: “I do hereby resign the office of Justice of the Peace for the Eighth Ward of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, effective November 3, 2009.”
Keith Bardwell was the JP who refused to marry an interracial couple in Louisiana because of his concern for the kids of such a union. He was unapologetic about his attitude and genuinely did not seem to realize what all the fuss was about, as seen in this interview with CBS:
Bardwell was first elected in 1975 as justice of the peace in Ponchatoula, La., a town 55 miles north of New Orleans. His term was set to run through 2014, and he had said that even before the flap, he hadn’t intended to run for re-election.
The couple Mr Bardwell refused to issue a license for – Beth Humphrey, 30, and Terence McKay, 32 – have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against him.
“We’re saddened that it took national attention to this issue, which was decided back in 1967 by the Supreme Court, and also that it took public admonishment from other elected leaders in order for him to resign,” said Laura Catlett, a lawyer for Humphrey and McKay.
The Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal who had previously called for Bardwell to resign, said Bardwell made the right decision.
“What he did was clearly wrong and this resignation was long overdue,” the governor said in a statement.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said Bardwell’s refusal to marry the couple reflected terribly on the state.
“I am deeply disturbed by Justice Bardwell’s practices and comments concerning interracial marriages,” she said. “Not only does his decision directly contradict Supreme Court rulings, it is an example of the ugly bigotry that divided our country for too long.
“By resigning … and ending his embarrassing tenure in office, Justice Bardwell has finally consented to the will of the vast majority of Louisiana citizens and nearly every governmental official in Louisiana … We are better off without him in public service,” she said.
Catlett said the resignation won’t stop the lawsuit, which also names Bardwell’s wife as a defendant.
“This does not in any way change the fact that he, with his wife’s help, discriminated against an interracial couple while he was a public official,” Catlett said.