A federal judge on Sunday blocked the Obama administration from enforcing new guidelines that were intended to expand restroom access for transgender students across the country.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas said in a 38-page ruling, which he said should apply nationwide, that the government had not complied with federal law when it issued “directives which contradict the existing legislative and regulatory text.”
Document: Preliminary Injunction Order
Judge O’Connor, whom President George W. Bush nominated to the federal bench, said that not granting an injunction would put states “in the position of either maintaining their current policies in the face of the federal government’s view that they are violating the law, or changing them to comply with the guidelines and cede their authority over this issue.”
The judge’s order, in a case brought by officials from more than a dozen states, is a victory for social conservatives in the continuing legal battles over the restroom guidelines, which the federal government issued this year. The culture war over the rights of transgender people, and especially their right to use public bathrooms consistent with their gender identities, has emerged as an emotional cause among social conservatives.
The Obama administration’s assertion that the rights of transgender people in public schools and workplaces are protected under existing laws against sex discrimination has been condemned by social conservatives, who said the administration was illegally intruding into local affairs and promoting a policy that would jeopardize the privacy and safety of school children.
The ruling could deter the administration from bringing new legal action against school districts that do not allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice.
“We are pleased that the court ruled against the Obama administration’s latest illegal federal overreach,” Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas said in a statement on Monday. “This president is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people, and is threatening to take away federal funding from schools to force them to conform.”