CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Oct. 12 he is leading a 21-state coalition urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review and strike down a high-profile case regarding transgender rights.
The coalition’s push comes as the Supreme Court decides if it will hear the case from Gloucester County, Virginia. The lower Fourth Circuit'’s decision, if upheld, would impact Virginia as well as West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The coalition argues the federal government’s position unlawfully threatens up to $55.8 billion in federal funds for schools that refuse to give up local discretion to federal officials in Washington, D.C.
Morrisey's office called it an attempt supported by the federal government to force a school to allow students to use the bathroom of the opposite sex.
“To threaten states with a loss of all of their funding if they refuse to adopt the federal government’s demand is coercion,” Morrisey said in a statement. “It is unconscionable to use this money, much of which goes to poor and special-needs children, as a weapon to force states to relinquish their authority to set local school policy on how to best protect children’s privacy and safety.”
The coalition’s friend-of-the-court brief, filed in late September and set for consideration later this month, follows two significant victories – a Supreme Court stay of the Virginia case and another court’s nationwide injunction to halt enforcement of a later-issued, sweeping federal directive concerning access to bathrooms, locker rooms, dormitories, showers and athletic teams.
The coalition argues the U.S. Department of Education sought to single-handedly change its interpretation of the word “sex” from that based on biology to include a person’s self-determined gender identity.
The brief argues upholding such a move will empower other agencies to take similar action, perhaps placing new obligations on states wishing to receive funds for health care, transportation, energy and a host of other areas.
West Virginia signed the brief with attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, along with the governors of Kentucky and North Carolina.