Attorneys general from 20 states sued the Biden administration Monday seeking to stop mandates that broaden federal sex discrimination protections to LGBTQ people. The government mandates range from transgender girls participating in school sports to the use of school and workplace bathrooms that align with a person's gender identity.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn., arguing that legal interpretations by the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are based on a faulty view of U.S. Supreme Court case law.
As CBN News previously reported, the Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 that the 1964 landmark civil rights law, under a provision called Title VII, protects gay, lesbian, and transgender people from discrimination in employment. The court ruled you can't discriminate on the basis of sex, which in 1964 the statute meant "male" or "female." But "sex" now also means both one's sexual orientation and one's gender identity.
As CBN News also reported last June, the Department of Education issued a ruling that reinterpreted Title IX, a law passed in 1972 to protect against discrimination in education based on sex. In its new policy directive, the department said discrimination based on a student's sexual orientation or gender identity will be treated as a violation of Title IX. A legal analysis by the department concluded there is "no persuasive or well-founded basis" to treat education differently than employment.
The education guidance was issued as a "notice of interpretation" and does not carry the force of law, but could result in sanctions against schools and colleges not deemed in compliance.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that same month released guidance about what could constitute discrimination against LGBTQ people and advised the public about how to file a complaint.
The government agencies said that the workplace and education guidance does not carry the force of law. However, the state attorneys general argue they are at risk of the federal government enforcing the guidance, threatening their states' sovereign authority, causing significant liability, and putting their federal education funding at risk.
“This case is about two federal agencies changing law, which is Congress’ exclusive prerogative,” Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III said in a statement. “The agencies simply do not have that authority. But that has not stopped them from trying. Even their attempts, as unlawful as they are, did not follow the Administrative Procedures Act. States over and over again have challenged federal agencies on this issue and been successful."
"These agencies also have misconstrued the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision by claiming its prohibition of discrimination applies to locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms under Title IX and Title VII and biological men who identify as women competing in women’s sports when the Supreme Court specifically said it was not deciding those issues in Bostock," he continued. "All of this, together with the threat of withholding educational funding in the midst of a pandemic, warrants this lawsuit.”
Nineteen other states are joining Tennessee in the lawsuit. They include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment on the lawsuit.
This past June, the department filed statements of interest in lawsuits that seek to overturn new laws in two states. In West Virginia, a law prohibits transgender athletes from competing in female sports. Arkansas became the first state to ban gender-confirming treatments or surgery for transgender youth.