Federal Judge Blocks Biden Admin’s Title IX Transgender Rules in 4 States

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
June 13, 2024Courts
Federal Judge Blocks Biden Admin’s Title IX Transgender Rules in 4 States
A rally at the White House to press the Biden administration to release the long-awaited final Title IX rule, on Dec. 5, 2023. (Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)

A federal judge on Thursday blocked the Biden administration’s transgender student protections in four states, halting enforcement of a new rule under the revamped Title IX framework that barred federally funded schools and colleges from discriminating on the basis of “gender identity.”

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty granted a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the new rule in Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho.

Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill, a Republican, issued a statement calling the ruling a “victory for women” that strikes down President Joe Biden’s “radical gender ideology and assault on Title IX.”

In a move that sparked controversy and a bevy of lawsuits, the Department of Education on April 19 announced a final rule expanding the decades-old Title IX law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools to now include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

“These final regulations build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming, and respect their rights,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement at the time.

The changes, which stopped short of prohibiting schools from banning female-identifying male athletes from competing against females, were slated to go into effect on Aug. 1. Schools that refused to comply risked losing essential federal funding and the prospect of lawsuits.

Immediately after the final rule was published in the Federal Register on April 29, Ms. Murrill filed a lawsuit against the Education Department at the U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana.

Her complaint called the revamped Title IX rule “an affront to the dignity of families and school administrators everywhere” and “nowhere close to legal.” Joining Louisiana in the legal action were the attorneys general of Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho.

Judge Doughty sided with Ms. Murrill and the other plaintiffs.

He wrote in a 40-page memorandum issued on June 13 that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits that the final Title IX rule is contrary to law under the Administrative Procedures Act, violates free speech and the free exercise of religion, runs counter to the spending clause of the U.S. Constitution, and is “arbitrary and capricious.”

While the accompanying judgment makes clear that the ruling is limited to just the four states, there are some half dozen other active federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the Title IX transgender rules.

The Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Background and Other Developments

President Biden has advanced various policies that promote gender ideology and advance special protections for individuals who identify as something different from their birth sex.

Generally, each administration has taken a different approach to the enforcement of Title IX regulations, which educational institutions must abide by to receive federal funding.

President Biden’s executive order, signed on March 8, 2021, formally tasked the Education Department with changing Title IX in a way that includes protections for an educational environment free of “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Following a period of public comment, the Education Department finalized the Title IX changes in April 2024, expanding the definition of sex discrimination and sex harassment, while broadening the scope of potential wrongdoing to include conduct outside the United States or outside a given education program or activity.

The Title IX changes gave men who identify as women the right to use female restrooms and locker rooms, and to join female-only organizations, while construing “harassment” as including the use of pronouns that conform to one’s biological sex rather than one’s chosen gender identity.

The move sparked a torrent of backlash, with over a dozen Republican-led states suing the Biden administration and advising schools to ignore the transgender provisions of the new rules.

Former President Donald Trump, who earlier waded into the transgender debate by pledging to punish doctors who provide gender transition treatments to children, has vowed to undo the Biden administration’s Title IX changes.

Besides the legal action in Lousiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho, a lawsuit challenging Title IX was filed in Texas—where a judge recently ruled against the Biden administration.

In the lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a district judge ruled on June 11 that the Education Department failed to follow proper constitutional procedure in adopting the Title IX changes and blocked its enforcement in the Lone Star state.

A Department of Education spokesperson told The Epoch Times in response to a query about the Texas ruling that the Education Department stands by the rulemaking process.

“Every student deserves the right to feel safe in school,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “The Department stands by the final Title IX regulations released in April 2024, which were crafted following a rigorous process to give complete effect to the Title IX statutory guarantee that no person experiences sex discrimination in federally-funded education.”

Mr. Paxton said in a statement that the judgment protects Texas public schools from attempts to redefine non-discrimination protections in radical ways.

“Threatening to withhold education funding by forcing states to accept ‘transgender’ policies that put women in danger was plainly illegal,” Mr. Paxton said. “Texas has prevailed on behalf of the entire nation.”

Matt McGregor contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times