Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Supreme Court Sidesteps Decision in Transgender Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided they will not rule on a major transgender case and instead sent the case back to a lower court. This all comes at the wake of President Trump’s decision to revoke federal guidelines that specified that transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity.

The case involved a transgender student, born female and identifies as male, suing for the right to use his high school’s boys’ bathroom. Plaintiff claimed that the school’s refusal violated federal anti-discrimination law and the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protections. The Court of Appeals sided with the plaintiff. These rulings were based in part on the guidance issued by the Departments of Education and Justice at the time finding that transgender students had the right to use school facilities that aligned with their gender identity. That guidance has since been withdrawn by the Trump administration and the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back down to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals “for further consideration in light of the guidance document” that the Trump Administration has withdrawn. Transgender rights supporters were hoping that the Supreme Court would use this case to secure those rights under federal law.

The case is part of a larger issue of a longstanding clash over LGBTQ rights. North Carolina revved  up this controversy after the state passed a law that required bathroom usage to be decided according to people’s gender at birth. It also blocked some of LGBTQ people’s ability to allege discrimination in court. This case would have been the U.S. Supreme Court’s first case on discrimination against transgender people. The suit involves whether Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, covers transgender students. It’s widely believed that the case will, at some point in time, reach the high court.

Twenty-three states had sued to block the guidance outlined by the Obama Administration. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ original decision was temporarily blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court in July of 2016. Now, the case will be reconsidered by the Circuit Court of Appeals. As time goes on it will be interesting to see how the 4th Circuit assesses the situation, and whether Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, will change the fate of this case.