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Justice Department appeals federal ruling against Title IX guidance

Justice Department appeals federal ruling against Title IX guidance

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Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. Department of Justice indicated Tuesday it is appealing a federal judge’s ruling temporarily blocking enforcement of the Biden administration’s policy that Title IX protects gay and transgender students from discrimination.
  • Last year, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance making explicit that Title IX, the law banning sex discrimination in federally funded schools, shielded students based on their gender identity and sexuality. 
  • But 20 predominantly conservative states sued last year, arguing the guidance interfered with their ability to govern. This July, U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley Jr. granted a preliminary injunction, for now banning enforcement of the guidelines in those states. The Justice Department is fighting against that injunction in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, it said in court documents Tuesday. 

Dive Insight:

The Biden administration’s executive actions designed to protect gay and transgender students have set off fiery legal battles. 

In the case of the 20 Republican-led states, they sued arguing the Education Department’s guidance released June 2021 violated the part of the Constitution banning Congress from using spending powers to force states to adopt federal rules as their own.

Atchley agreed, writing in his ruling this July that the policy “directly interferes with and threatens” states’ power to enforce their own laws. 

More court challenges are likely to come on related issues. 

Republican attorneys general told the Education Department in April it should stop rewriting regulations governing Title IX and that they were “prepared to take legal action to uphold Title IX’s plain meaning and safeguard the integrity of women’s sports.” This referenced a separate regulatory proposal from the administration, which would cement protections for LGBTQ students under Title IX. 

However, the Education Department has said it will undergo separate rulemaking for a regulation that would allow transgender athletes to participate in sports aligned with their gender identity. 

The 60-day period for the public to comment on the Education Department’s broader Title IX plan ended this week.

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