Supreme Court cancels hearing in transgender case

Transgenderism | Legal fight over restroom policy heads back to appeals court for a new review
by Emily Belz
Posted 3/06/17, 11:10 am

The Supreme Court today decided not to hear a highly anticipated case on transgender restroom policies that had been scheduled for late March, in light of new guidance from the Trump administration on the matter.

The court sent the case, Gloucester County v. G.G., back to lower courts for further consideration based on the new restroom and locker room directive. In doing so it vacated the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the Virginia school board at the center of the case. 

Transgender advocates had hoped the Gloucester County case would be a landmark decision for transgender rights. Despite the new Trump directive, which leaves policies on sex-segregated facilities up to local school officials, the Supreme Court still could have heard the case based on the question of whether “sex” in Title IX means “gender identity,” as the Obama administration claimed it did.

This action at least delays any landmark decision for the near future. If the high court does hear the case down the road, it likely will have a ninth justice: Neil Gorsuch.

In the case at hand, student Gavin Grimm, who was born female but now identifies as male, asked to use the male facilities at the Virginia school. The school board declined but offered to build unisex facilities. Grimm still considered that a form of discrimination and sued. 

Grimm’s lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union won at the 4th Circuit but the Supreme Court placed a stay on the case pending review. A court in Texas also placed a nationwide stay on the Obama administration’s directive last year.

The school board’s lawyer, Kyle Duncan, recently said the 4th Circuit’s ruling against the school had no basis with the Obama administration directive rescinded. He thought the court should have vacated and remanded the ruling, as it did today. 

In rehearing the case, the 4th Circuit will consider whether the term “sex” in Title IX means “gender identity.” The new Trump administration directive does not say what “sex” means in that statute, but merely rescinded the Obama administration’s interpretation of the word. The directive also says states and local authorities should have primary authority over education policy.

Emily Belz

Emily is a senior reporter for WORLD Magazine. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and previously reported for the The New York Daily News, The Indianapolis Star, and Philanthropy magazine. Emily resides in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @emlybelz.

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  • JerryM
    Posted: Mon, 03/06/2017 05:48 pm

    Even some progressives, I would say, are uncomfortable with the whole transgender push.  One of the latest examples being an advertising campaign in Spain: it goes something like "girls can have penises boys can have vaginas, it's as simple as that".