In a ruling issued late Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee temporarily blocked the Biden administration from enforcing guidance on two federal statutes aimed at preventing discrimination against LGBTQ people.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Atchley blocked implementing the guidance which had been challenged by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slattery and a group of 20 other states’ attorneys general. 

The suit asked for an permanent injunction against the U. S. Department of Education and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over guidance issued in the wake of President Joe Biden’s executive order directing federal agencies to broadly implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year against anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

The 38-page complaint contends the Department of Education and EEOC and went too far with its guidance to schools and employers on the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which determined anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, thus illegal under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In his ruling Atchley wrote that the guidance “directly interferes with and threatens plaintiff states’ ability to continue enforcing their state laws that bar trans people from playing on the school sports teams or using the restrooms that match their gender identity.”

“As it currently stands, plaintiffs must choose between the threat of legal consequences — enforcement action, civil penalties and the withholding of federal funding — or altering their state laws to ensure compliance with the guidance and avoid such adverse action,” continued Atchley, who was appointed to the judgeship by former President Donald Trump. The guidance also ignores “the limited reach of Bostock,” he added.

Atchley refused to dismiss the suit ordering it to proceed, but his preliminary injunction effectively stops the Biden administration from protecting transgender students from discrimination in over 20 states that have laws or are attempting to pass laws that restrict their access to facilities and sports.

“We are disappointed and outraged by this ruling from the Eastern District of Tennessee where, in yet another example of far-right judges legislating from the bench, the court blocked guidance affirming what the Supreme Court decided in Bostock v. Clayton County: that LGBTQ+ Americans are protected under existing civil rights law,” Interim Human Rights Campaign President Joni Madison said in a press released after Atchley ruling was issued.

Politico noted that Atchley’s decision is also likely to be used to support arguments in a Connecticut case at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals challenging whether trans women and girls can play on sports teams that match their gender identity. Arguments in that case are set for Sept. 29.

States joining Tennessee in filing the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

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