March 06, 2017
Gender-free bathrooms are being debated in a lot of places -- except, we learned today, the U.S. Supreme Court. In a one sentence order, the eight justices on America's highest bench pulled out of the fray, sending the highest profile case back to the lower courts -- and liberals back to the drawing board. For the Left, which relies on the courts to do what lawmakers will not, it was a huge blow to an agenda the majority of America rejects. With 43 words, the justices drove home the importance of the White House's decision to send the issue back to the states.
"The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for further consideration in light of the guidance document issued by the Department of Education and Department of Justice on February 22, 2017." In this particular case, a student named Gavin Grimm sued her district, Gloucester County Schools, for offering to let her use a unisex restroom instead of the boys', which is how she says she identifies. To Grimm and her parents, the accommodation wasn't good enough, and with the help of extremists at the ACLU, the family launched a full-scale legal assault. (Read FRC's amicus brief here.)
In liberal circles, Grimm's suit was probably the Left's best crack at rewriting the Title IX sex discrimination laws to include "gender identity." Now, thanks to the Trump administration, those goals will be on hold until at least next year when Neil Gorsuch will almost certainly be on the Supreme Court. Until then, the showdown will be where it belongs: in states and local communities. Like so many Americans, we're grateful that the Trump administration recognized the Obama mandate for the threat it is. Now that the case has been remanded, we're hopeful that the Fourth Circuit Court will do what was promised in its earlier opinion and "leave policy formulation to the political branches,' for 'the weighing of privacy interests or safety concerns' was not to be left to the courts."
In the meantime, we're encouraged that not only policymakers -- but these justices -- are increasingly skeptical of the federal government forcing boys and girls to shower together, room together on school trips, and share locker rooms and bathrooms. At the ballot box, the American people were clear that they don't want out-of-touch Washington bureaucrats imposing a one-size-fits-all policy. Together with parents, state and local officials are the best qualified to decide what rules best respect the dignity, privacy, and safety concerns of their students.
Tomorrow, Texas leaders will be discussing exactly that at the first Senate hearing on the state's Privacy Act. As the bill's author, state senator Lois Kolkhorst (R) points out, this has nothing to do with intolerance. "I don't view this bill as a transgender bill," Kolkhorst said. "It truly is about public safety ... It is not against the law for a man to enter a woman's restroom dressed looking like a man. There is nothing on the books here in Texas."
And Republicans aren't the only ones who think so. Today, State Senator Eddie Lucio, a Democrat, publicly backed the bill, insisting that there was a way to balance sensitivity with safety. "Children, youth and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion, sensitivity, and respect without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security from other students and parents." North Carolina managed it -- and no matter what the media says, they aren't just surviving -- they're thriving. "No businesses left North Carolina," Lt. Governor Dan Forest (R) said. "This is not an economic issue. This is about doing the right thing. There is no price tag you put on a head of a woman or a child in a place of public accommodation."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.