A group of 20 states filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over a new policy that would extend federal sex discrimination protections to student-athletes who identify as transgender.
The complaint was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in Knoxville. That state’s attorney general, Herbert Slatery, is leading the coalition of states that filed the lawsuit, Fox News reported on Tuesday.
The states are challenging the guidance issued on the day that President Joe Biden took office and later updated that, among other things, demands that men and boys who identify as female be allowed to participate in girls’ and women’s sports and use restrooms and locker rooms designated for women and girls.
Several Republican-led states, most notably Florida, have enacted legislation banning transgender athletes from participating in women’s and girls’ sports.
In a statement on Monday afternoon, Slatery said the multistate coalition was challenging guidance from Biden’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Education on these issues.
“The guidance purports to resolve highly controversial and localized issues such as whether schools must allow biological males to compete on girls’ sports teams,” the statement read, also citing issues with locker rooms and pronoun usage.
The statement argued that the agencies involved in the decision had no authority to “unilaterally resolve” these issues and accused the agencies of not accepting public comment.
“This case is about two federal agencies changing law, which is Congress’ exclusive prerogative,” Slatery said, adding that the agencies failed to follow the Administrative Procedures Act.
The Tennessee attorney general’s statement also accused the EEOC and DOE of misconstruing the Bostock v. Clayton County Supreme Court decision to justify the changes under Title IX and VII laws.
“All of this, together with the threat of withholding educational funding in the midst of a pandemic, warrants this lawsuit,” Slatery concluded.
Tennessee was joined in the lawsuit by Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.
We joined 19 states in filing a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Tennessee yesterday.
The complaint seeks to stop the Biden Administration from enforcing new, expansive, and unlawful interpretations of federal antidiscrimination laws.
— GA AG Chris Carr (@Georgia_AG) August 31, 2021
The lawsuit names Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Attorney General Merrick Garland and EEOC Chairwoman Charlotte Burrows among the defendants.
It alleges that Biden’s directive to implement the transgender policies was the result of the administration “unreasonably” interpreting anti-discrimination laws.
“Enforcement of the Department’s Interpretation of Fact Sheet could cause Plaintiffs to lose significant federal funds,” the lawsuit reads, also stating it could subject the states to “significant liability.”
Litigation has been filed over various transgender issues in recent months, including a Virginia case that the Supreme Court declined to hear in June, effectively striking down a transgender bathroom ban.
Florida’s transgender sports law was hit with a lawsuit in June by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, with the group marking the legal offensive as “sending a message to [Governor Ron DeSantis] … that you cannot target our community without retribution.”
Also in June, a judge in Virginia ruled in favor of a teacher who had refused to use a transgender student’s “preferred” pronouns, leading to his suspension.
That same month, the Biden Department of Justice also launched legal offensives against West Virginia and Arkansas, declaring that laws that blocked physicians from prescribing puberty blockers or performing transition procedures on minors were unconstitutional.
Earlier this month, a Virginia school board rejected a mandate that included “LGBTQ+ cultural competency training” for staff, setting up a legal battle with state Democrats.