Virginia trans bathroom case sent back to lower court thanks to Trump’s guidelines move
The US Supreme Court has sent the highly anticipated legal challenge against a Virginia County School Board back to the lower courts after changes from Trump’s Department of Education altered some basic issues of the case.
Gavin Grimm, 17, had filed suit against Gloucester County School Board over a policy put in place requiring students to use restrooms aligned with the gender marker on their birth certificate. The case was filed in December 2014, less than two weeks after the Obama Administration sent out guidelines instructing schools to respect the needs of trans students, like Grimm who identifies as a trans man, by interpreting public school Civil Rights law Title IX to include “transgender” under the rule’s “sex” class for discrimination.
But within months of Trump taking office, his Department of Ed rescinded that order, a move some legal experts believed shot a giant hole in Grimm’s case. Still, advocates had hoped the highest court in the land would rule on the issue based on the 14th Amendment, the equal protection clause, which has been key to LGBTQ legal advances up until this point.
But today’s ruling does two things; it sends the case back to the Fourth circuit (which had ruled in favor based on the Title IX claim) and asks them to examine the case based on the updated interpretation of Title IX via Trump. It also gives Gloucester County and Trump’s team more time to devise an argument against Grimm’s claim.
“We’re disappointed in the court’s decision not to move forward with hearing the important Title IX issues raised in Gavin’s case,” said ACLU-VA Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga in a statement sent out after today’s SCOTUS announcement. The ACLU has been representing Grimm since the case started. ”For so many transgender students seeking the simple dignity of being allowed to live their lives fully in school and in other public spaces, justice delayed is justice denied. We will continue to stand with Gavin and all transgender people in the continuing fight for full equality under the U.S. Constitution and federal and state nondiscrimination laws prohibiting discrimination based on sex.”
Meanwhile, Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Kerri Kupec, who has been the representing Gloucester County School Board, said Trump and the Department of Ed made the right move in rescinding the Obama order and praised the high court for their new motion.
“It only makes sense for the Supreme Court to vacate the 4th Circuit’s earlier decision and instruct it to reconsider this case,” said Kupec in a statement. “The 4th Circuit should affirm the plain meaning of Title IX, which protects boys’ and girls’ privacy in locker rooms, showers, and restrooms. School officials should be free to protect their students’ privacy, safety, and dignity without federal government interference.”
Virginia Senator and former VP candidate Tim Kaine once again expressed his support for Grimm in the face of the cases’s bad news. Last week Kaine, along with VA Senator Mark Warner and hundreds of other elected officials, signed on to a legal brief supporting the challenge. In a statement released today, he pointed the finger squarely at Trump and condemned the action as failing to commit to equality for all students.
“Regardless of the Administration’s retreat, I have high hopes that the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will continue to stand for fair treatment for all, including transgender students,” Kaine said.
The fate of the issue now returns to the Fourth Circuit where a new argument based off the 14th amendment will have to be argued.
This is a breaking story and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.
“As long as Trump holds office, his band of mostly old white men (GBT seniors excluded) will make moves to ignore and marginalize.”March 22, 2017
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