February 10, 2017 at 9:05 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
DOJ nixes request to halt order against trans student protections

Jeff Sessions, gay news, Washington Blade

The Justice Department has withdraw its request to halt an order against trans student guidance after Jeff Sessions was confirmed as attorney general. (Image courtesy C-Span)

On the day after Jeff Sessions was sworn in as U.S. attorney general, the U.S. Justice Department has withdrawn its request to halt partially an order against Obama administration guidance protecting transgender students from school discrimination and assuring them to the restroom consistent with their gender identity.

The request for a partial stay was filed on Nov. 23 before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in response to an order from U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush-appointed judge who instituted a nationwide order prohibiting the federal government from enforcing the guidance. The judge ruled the Obama administration overextended its authority by applying the provision against sex discrimination in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to transgender students.

The brief from the Obama administration sought a partial stay so the ruling would only apply to the 12 states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed the lawsuit against the guidance as litigation proceeded before the Fifth Circuit. The plaintiff states are Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia as well as the Arizona Department of Education and Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on behalf of their states.

(The first name listed on that Nov. 23 brief was Benjamin Mizer, former principal deputy assistant attorney general for the civil division and of the hundreds of openly gay officials in the Obama administration.)

But the new three-page Trump administration brief, jointly Friday filed by Paxton and Justice Department officials withdraws the request for a partial stay pending appeal. Further, the brief calls for cancellation of oral argument scheduled Feb. 17 on that request, asserting “parties are currently considering how best to proceed in this appeal.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, placed the blame of the brief seeking to undermine the transgender student protections squarely with Sessions.

“After being on the job for less than 48 hours, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has signaled his intent to undermine the equal dignity of transgender students,” Griffin said. “Transgender students are entitled to the full protection of the United States Constitution and our federal nondiscrimination laws. It is heartbreaking and wrong that the agency tasked with enforcing civil rights laws would instead work to subvert them for political interests. President Trump must immediately reverse course and direct the DOJ to uphold guidance protecting transgender students.”

A Trump administration brief seeks to withdraw a request to stay an order against transgender student guidance.

Nowhere is Sessions’s name on the brief. The top names listed are Paxton on behalf of Texas and Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler.

The Trump administration brief is consistent with a campaign promise from President Trump, who said in an interview with The Washington Post he’d rescind the Obama-era guidance prohibiting discrimination against transgender students, but “protect everybody.” The legal brief could be the Trump administration’s first step in complying with that campaign promise.

Even though the O’Connor order bars the U.S. government from asserting Title IX applies to transgender students, transgender advocates have insisted students are still able to sue on their own under that law if they feel they’ve experienced discrimination as a result of their gender identity.

The Justice Department makes this move one week after the White House issued a statement asserting Trump is “respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights” and would keep in place a different Obama-era executive order barring anti-LGBT workplace discrimination against federal contractors.

UPDATE: The Fifth Circuit has granted the request from the Justice Department to cancel oral arguments in the case initially scheduled for Feb. 17.

h/t Equality Case Files

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • Katrina Rose

    Dear Blade:

    Here’s a thought. Run an op-ed officially retracting the (even-then-nonsensical) position espoused in: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/06/28/trans-americans-enjoy-robust-bias-protections/

    Looking for someone to write it? I volunteer.

    • Chenaide Yvette Thompson

      So your beliefs go against my humanity. That is why I have strongly held beliefs that there’s no god or any other entity that I espouse as being anything more than a mythical fantasy from a era of cults. Including persons that think I don’t have any right that everyone else has.

      • Katrina Rose

        I’m not sure why that is a response to my comment – which was in reference to the insanely rosy claim by someone with no legal experience that trans people have ‘robust’ protections.

        • I went to the link you provided and did not read the whole article. I don’t doubt you have factual issues with that op ed. But one grain of salt is that the Blade’s headlines frequently do not match the content of the articles (a problem rife throughout the journalistic world). They usually make exaggerated claims and the articles back pedal. I think it’s a form of clickbait.

      • Which rights have people told you you don’t have that everyone else has? I’m sincerely curious. I don’t have the right to taxpayer provided cosmetic surgery. I don’t have the right to use whatever bathroom or locker room I claim to be most comfortable in. Which rights are you missing out on?

  • customartist

    How exactly is this “protecting everyone”?

    Republicans, Conservatives, and the uber-Religious are THE PRECISE REASON that the Founding Fathers included the Equal Protection Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

    • ghalv

      There’s no bigger religion than the Secular Left… Bigots For Open, Unhinged Hate.

      • El Cruiser

        Hey Butthead, Secular Means “Non Religious” If ANY ONE IS A BIGOT, Check Yer Facts: IT’S THAT Fascist ButtHead and ALL His Lil Minions IN 0ffice…

        Promoting Hate IS NOT The American Way, But That 0f Tyranny, and Dictatorship…
        O’ Lol, But You Voted For Him Right?

      • Robyn Ann

        Equal protection is not “hate”, hater.

  • ghalv

    Good for them — gender dysphoria is a MENTAL ILLNESS – requiring a cure – not something to accommodate, celebrate, and promote.

    • Chloe dawn weatherby

      Hey ghalv where do you live chOmo I would like to have a little talk

    • El Cruiser

      …Again Is Your Brain On Vacation? O’ I Do Apologize If It Is…But Uh Yeeah, Gender Dysphoria “NOT” A MENTAL ILLNESS, PLEASE UPDATE YOUR INFO; IT SEEMS TO BE OUTDATED!

      Promoting Hate IS NOT The American Way, But That 0f Tyranny, and Dictatorship…
      O’Lol, But You Voted For Him Right?

  • Penguin

    There are plenty of gays and lesbians who think this transgender nonsense goes to far. Gay people don’t ask you to deny reality when they seek equality. Trans people do. They ask you to believe a fiction. Blacks didn’t ask us to believe a fiction, a delusion when they sought equality either. We don’t enable bulemics or anorexics, so why does the left insist on enabling mentally ill people here? NO PC decisions get rid of the fact that XY= male. That this people are mentally ill, you can’t explain away their astronomical suicide rate as due to “discrimination” because other groups have had it far far worse and didn’t have the suicide rates. Ask about blacks in jim crow, or jews in 1930s germany, did they have remotely as high of suicide rates. are you going to dare say trans people have it worse than those groups did?

    • Katrina Rose

      Have a buggy nice day!

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