judge in Tennessee has temporarily barred two federal agencies from enforcing directives issued by President Joe Biden’s administration that extended protections for LGBTQ people in schools and workplaces.
U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley Jr. in an order on Friday ruled for the 20 state attorneys general who sued last August claiming the Biden administration directives infringe on states’ right to enact laws that, for example, prevent students from participating in sports based on their gender identity or requiring schools and businesses to provide bathrooms and showers to accommodate transgender people.
Atchley, appointed by President Donald Trump in 2020, agreed with the attorneys generals’ argument and issued a temporary injunction that prevents the agencies from applying that guidance on LGBTQ discrimination until the matter can be resolved by courts.
“As demonstrated above, the harm alleged by Plaintiff States is already occurring — their sovereign power to enforce their own legal code is hampered by the issuance of Defendants’ guidance and they face substantial pressure to change their state laws as a result,” Atchley wrote.
They hail from Alabama and Alaska as well as Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia (Idaho), Idaho, Indiana, Kansas Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi. Missouri. Montana. Nebraska. Ohio. Oklahoma. South Carolina. South Dakota. Tennessee. West Virginia.
Following a U.S. Supreme Court landmark civil rights case in 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and U.S. Department of Education issued directives concerning discrimination based upon sexual orientation in June. Title VII protects transgender and gay people against discrimination at work.
The Department of Education guidance from June 2021 said discrimination based on a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity would be treated as a violation of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that protects sex discrimination in education.
In March, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance about discrimination against LGBTQ persons and provided information to the public on how to file complaints.
It influenced the Biden administration to take a position against legislation and proposals from a growing number states which would have prohibited transgender girls playing on women’s sports teams. The state attorneys general contend that the authority over such policies “properly belongs to Congress, the States, and the people.”
Education policy included the possibility for federal sanctions on schools or colleges that failed to provide protections for transgender students.
The attorneys general argued that a delaying a legal review of the directives would “cause them significant hardship, as Defendants would be allowed to use the ‘fear of future sanctions’ to force ‘immediate compliance’ with the challenged guidance,” Atchley wrote.
“The Court finds that Plaintiffs have shown a credible threat of enforcement,” Atchley wrote. “Plaintiffs highlight that private litigants are relying on Defendants’ guidance to challenge Plaintiffs’ state laws.”
Atchley mentioned that the U.S. Department of Education had filed a statement of Interest in a West Virginia lawsuit, asserting that Title IX prohibited the state from prohibiting transgender girls participating in single-sex restricted sports for girls.
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