February 13, 2017
If you thought President Trump hit the ground running, you should see Jeff Sessions. The new attorney general was probably still unpacking his office when he got to work turning the page at the Justice Department after eight years of scandal. First up? The Obama bathroom mandate for public schools.
Less than 48 hours after his confirmation, Sessions's DOJ made it clear the agency was under new management by refusing to defend the controversial order to let students of both sexes use any locker room, shower, or restroom they want. Since last May when President Obama shocked the country with his decree, the issue has been working its way through the courts -- thanks to a huge pushback from states like Texas. By summer's end, a federal judge agreed with parents: the Obama administration had overstepped its boundaries. In a huge win for the Constitution and common sense, Reed O'Connor blocked the rule from taking effect, at least temporarily. Frustrated, the Obama attorneys asked the court to lift its ban in every state except the 13 who sued the government over it. O'Connor refused, insisting:
"It is clear from Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit precedent that this Court has the power to issue a nationwide injunction where appropriate. Both Title IX and Title VII rely on the consistent, uniform application of national standards in education and workplace policy. A nationwide injunction is necessary because the alleged violation extends nationwide," he wrote. "Should the Court only limit the injunction to the plaintiff states who are a party to this cause of action, the Court risks a 'substantial likelihood that a geographically-limited injunction would be ineffective."
Not surprisingly, the Obama administration appealed. But thanks to the Trump team's quick thinking, the court date originally scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled. "The parties are currently considering how best to proceed," Justice officials wrote. Of course, most Americans hope that "proceeding" includes the formal withdrawal of an edict that's already had a deleterious effect on girls' privacy and safety. From Virginia to Oklahoma, the groundswell of opposition exploded. While some districts may have waffled on the rule, parents refused to take the government's coercion lying down. In Palatine, Illinois, where girls were so afraid to change in the locker room that they wore their gym clothes under their school clothes, the Trump administration's move is a positive step. No child's innocence should be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. As even some Democrats will tell you, the federal government has absolutely no right to strip parents and local schools of their rights to provide a safe learning environment for children.
Donald Trump argued before the election that the federal government had no business forcing extreme bathroom and shower policies on schools. "The state should make the decision," he argued. Hopefully, the new White House will give them that opportunity by overturning Obama's order -- once and for all.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.