11 states sue Obama administration over transgender guidance letter
11 states sue Obama administration over transgender guidance letter

Officials in 11 states filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Wednesday in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas [official website] challenging the Obama administration’s recent guidance letter [press release] on transgender students. The states—Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, and Georgia—as well as the Arizona Department of Education and the governor of Maine assert 10 claims against the guidance provided by the administration earlier this month, ranging from procedural claims to constitutional arguments. According to the plaintiffs, the “new Rules, Regulations, Guidance and Interpretations at Issue”:

Are Being Imposed Without Observance of Procedure Required by Law … Are Unlawful by Exceeding Congressional Authorization … Are Unlawful by Violating the Tenth Amendment … Are Unlawful by Violating the Fourteenth Amendment … Unlawfully Attempt to Abrogate State Sovereign Immunity… Are Arbitrary and Capricious … Are Unlawful and Violate Constitutional Standards of Clear Notice …Are Unlawful and Unconstitutionally Coercive … [and] Were Issued Without a Proper Regulatory Flexibility Analysis.

The plaintiffs are seeking declarations that the guidance is unlawful based on any reason asserted, as well as a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement and a resulting permanent injunction to prevent the letter from ever having legal effect.

Rights of transgender individuals have become a hot button issue globally. Last week the Oklahoma legislature approved a resolution [JURIST report] asking Congress to impeach President Barack Obama over his administration’s guidance on ensuring the protection and inclusion of transgender individuals in federal civil rights law. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced [JURIST report] legislation last week that would ban transgender discrimination, including it within Canada’s hate crime laws. Also last week the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), along with several other organizations, asked a federal court [JURIST report] to block the enforcement of a North Carolina law that they claim targets transgender people for discrimination. The Massachusetts Senate advanced [JURIST report] legislation earlier this month aimed at protecting transgender individuals from discrimination.