West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey Thursday announced that his office plans to “fight for fairness in women’s sports” and will ask the US Supreme Court to lift an injunction on H.B. 3293, a law restricting transgender students from “participating on athletic teams” that match their gender identity.
During a news conference, Morrisey stated that he will file a motion before the Supreme Court and aruge that the injunction “harms biologically female athletes, too, who will continue to be displaced as long as biological males join women’s sports teams. In that way, the majority’s cursory decision undermines equal protection—it doesn’t advance it.”
Becky Pepper-Jackson, an 11-year-old girl, filed a complaint challenging the restrictive law in May 2021 with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Under H.B. 3293, Pepper-Jackson is blocked from joining the girls track and field team at her middle school because she is transgender. The complaint argued that Pepper-Jackson’s rights under Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause are violated by the law and that not allowing girls to partcipate in sports because of their transgender status is unconstitutional.
The US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia granted Pepper-Jackson’s request for a preliminary injunction on July 21, 2021. However, on January 5, 2023, the court ruled that “H.B. 3293 is constitutional and complies with Title IX” and dissolved the preliminary injunction. Pepper-Jackson filed a motion to stay the dissolution pending appeal. The district court denied her motion on February 7, and Pepper-Jackson appealed the decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which granted the motion and reinstated the preliminary injunction on February 22.
According to Morrisey, the purpose of the law is to “protect the safety of women and make sure women are able to compete under fair circumstances.” However, the ACLU noted that “[t]his law was signed by Gov. Jim Justice despite his inability to name any transgender athletes in West Virginia.”