A U.S. District Court in Tennessee has temporarily barred the Biden administration from enforcing a policy that would have required states to allow athletes who identify as transgender to play on the sports teams of the gender they identify with.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley Jr. ruled in favor of 20 state attorneys general who sued the Biden administration in August 2021, the Associated Press reported. The attorneys general argued that two federal agencies — the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Education — were overstepping their mandate from Congress by crafting new guidance that would have trampled upon existing or future state gender laws.
In addition to affecting transgender athletes, the Biden administration policy would have allowed individuals who identify as transgender to enter locker rooms and use bathrooms of the opposite biological sex.
In June 2021, DOE said that discrimination based on their gender identity would be a violation of Title IX. The EEOC also issued new guidance for private businesses. Many of these states represented in the lawsuit had crafted laws that ran afoul of those federal policies and argued that the court needed to issue a temporary injunction on the federal guidance until their lawsuit could make its way through the system.
“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 in his ruling on Friday.
Tennessee’s Attorney General Herbert Slatery led the lawsuit and claimed that the justification for DOE’s and EEOC’s guidance rested on a false interpretation of Bostock v. Clayton County, which declared that it was discriminatory for a private business to fire or hire somebody based on their gender identity or sexual orientation under Title VII.
“These agencies also have misconstrued the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision by claiming its prohibition of discrimination applies to locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms under Title IX and Title VII and biological men who identify as women competing in women’s sports, when the Supreme Court specifically said it was not deciding those issues in Bostock,” Slatery argued in August 2021 lawsuit, Courthouse News reported at the time.
The lawsuit also said that the Biden administration “purports to resolve highly controversial and localized issues such as … whether individuals may be compelled to use another person’s preferred pronouns. But the agencies have no authority to resolve those sensitive questions, let alone to do so by executive fiat without providing any opportunity for public participation.”
The attorneys general argued that the agencies in question were “usurping authority that properly belongs to Congress, the States, and the people and to eliminate the nationwide confusion and upheaval that the agencies’ recent guidance has inflicted on States and other regulated entities.”
Prior to the injunction, DOE could have enacted various sanctions on schools or colleges that did not comply with their transgender guidance. Ultimately, the attorneys general challenging the administration want the court to declare the policies “invalid and unlawful and to prohibit their enforcement.”
The Biden administration has recently suffered major setbacks when attempting to enforce new policies on states in other domestic issues.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in West Virginia v. The Environmental Protection Agency that the EPA lacked the authority to curb greenhouse gases in order to bring about a transition away from coal energy throughout the country because it was not specifically granted that power by Congress.