A federal judge in Tennessee ruled July 15 to temporarily block Biden administration directives allowing transgender workers and students to use bathrooms and locker rooms and join sports teams that correspond with their preferred gender identity.
In August, state attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia brought a lawsuit against the federal government arguing the directives directly conflicted with their own state laws and that authority over such policies “properly belongs to Congress, the States, and the people.”
The Biden administration claimed that it was merely enforcing the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which held that LGBTQ persons are protected under the anti-discrimination provisions of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
But U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley Jr. ruled the administration was stretching the Bostock ruling beyond what the high court intended.
“The [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s] guidance identifies and creates rights for applicants and employees that have not been established by federal law,” he wrote.
Atchley also agreed with the state attorneys general that implementing directives that go against their state laws would undermine their “sovereign power.”
“Plaintiffs have sovereign interests in enforcing their duly enacted state laws,” the ruling reads. “Plaintiffs suffered an immediate injury to their sovereign interests when Defendants issued the challenged guidance, as Defendants’ guidance and several of Plaintiffs’ statutes conflict. Absent an injunction, Plaintiff States’ ability to enforce their conflicting state laws will remain hampered, and Plaintiffs will continue to face substantial pressure to change their state laws in order to avoid material legal consequences.
“ … An injunction will ensure that the agencies are not exceeding their express authority delegated by Congress,” Atchley summarized.
Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, one of the plaintiffs, called the ruling “a major victory for women’s sports and for the privacy and safety of girls and women in their school bathrooms and locker rooms.”
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