A federal judge on Friday handed a major win to a coalition of 20 states when he blocked a Biden administration rule that prohibits sex-specific restrooms within public schools and requires districts to allow biological males to compete on girls' sports teams.
In granting a temporary injunction prohibiting the Biden administration from enforcing the rule, U.S. District Judge Charles Edward Atchley Jr. indicated he would eventually make the injunction permanent and side with the 20 states.
"In light of these general principles, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their notice and comment claim," Atchley, who was nominated by President Trump, wrote.
The new rule, issued last year by the Department of Education, interprets Title IX as prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, a 2019 ruling related to employment. Such an interpretation would prohibit sex-specific restrooms and locker rooms and require schools to allow biological boys on girls' teams. In issuing the rule, the Department of Education was acting on an executive order by President Biden.
The text of Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex.
Atchley noted that the justices in the Bostock decision specifically said they were not addressing Title IX.
"In applying Bostock to Title IX, the Department overlooked the caveats expressly recognized by the Supreme Court and created new law," he wrote.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, who led the coalition that brought the lawsuit, applauded the decision. The coalition's lawsuit contended that the rule broke federal law and violated the U.S. Constitution.
"The District Court rightly recognized the federal government put Tennessee and other states in an impossible situation: choose between the threat of legal consequences including the withholding of federal funding – or altering our state laws to comply. Keep in mind these new, transformative rules were made without you – without your elected leaders in Congress having a say, which is what the law requires," Slatery said. "We are thankful the Court put a stop to it, maintained the status quo as the lawsuit proceeds, and reminded the federal government it cannot direct its agencies to rewrite the law."
Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor, whose state was part of the coalition, called it "a major victory for women's sports and for the privacy and safety of girls and women in their school bathrooms and locker rooms."
In addition to Tennessee and Oklahoma, other states in the coalition are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Devenorr
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.