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A Tennessee law protecting children from life-altering transgender procedures can take full effect after an appeals court overruled a federal judge’s ruling that blocked the law’s prohibition of giving kids cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers.
On Saturday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled against the preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson that blocked portions of Tennessee’s law that prevented transgender surgeries and hormone procedures on children. The appeals court’s decision came after Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti filed a motion for an emergency stay.
“If the injunction remains in place during the appeal, Tennessee will suffer irreparable harm from its inability to enforce the will of its legislature, to further the public-health considerations undergirding the law, and to avoid irreversible health risks to its children,” Chief Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote, adding that “Tennessee is likely to succeed on its appeal of the preliminary injunction.”
Skrmetti, who has been Tennessee’s attorney general since September 2022, celebrated the court’s decision in a statement on Saturday.
“The case is far from over, but this is a big win. The court of appeals lifted the injunction, meaning the law can be fully enforced, and recognized that Tennessee is likely to win the constitutional argument and the case,” he said.
Tennessee’s law was passed after an investigation from Daily Wire host Matt Walsh revealed that transgender procedures were being performed on children at Vanderbilt’s Pediatric Transgender Clinic. The law, which passed overwhelmingly in the legislature, was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson and House Majority Leader William Lamberth.
“I am thankful to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals for confirming what Tennesseans already know: Children cannot give consent to experimental medical procedures or drugs that destroy their healthy bodies. While this decision is very encouraging, it is only one battle won in a war waged by the left to groom and harm a generation of innocent children. We will continue this fight to protect children all the way to the [Supreme Court] if that is what it takes. Great job [AG Skrmetti] and team,” Lamberth said.
In his decision, Sutton wrote that health risks associated with puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, which have been associated with future fertility problems, were a key consideration for the court. He was also skeptical of Richardson’s claim that Tennessee’s law violated the 14th Amendment.
“That prompts the question whether the people of this country ever agreed to remove debates of this sort — about the use of new drug treatments on minors — from the conventional place for dealing with new norms, new drugs, and new technologies: the democratic process,” he wrote. “Life-tenured federal judges should be wary of removing a vexing and novel topic of medical debate from the ebbs and flows of democracy by construing a largely unamendable federal constitution to occupy the field.”
The appeals court also ruled that states had the authority to regulate certain drugs.
“It is well within a State’s police power to ban off-label uses of certain drugs. At the same time, it is difficult to maintain that the medical community is of one mind about the use of hormone therapy for gender dysphoria when the FDA is not prepared to put its credibility and careful testing protocols behind the use,” the ruling said.