Law & Courts News in Brief

U.S. Supreme Court Returns ‘Restroom Case’ to Appeals Court

By Mark Walsh — March 21, 2017 1 min read
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The U.S. Supreme Court has returned the major case on transgender rights in schools to a lower court for fresh consideration of the Trump administration’s withdrawal of Obama-era guidance that federal anti-discrimination law protects gender identity.

In a one-sentence order without recorded dissent in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., the justices this month vacated the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in Richmond, Va., that had deferred to the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX.

The action is a defeat in the short term for Gavin Grimm, the transgender boy who was barred by a Gloucester County, Va., school district policy from using the restroom that aligns with his gender identity.

The court’s action also means the justices won’t be resolving in the near term a debate over transgender rights that has roiled the nation’s schools. But the issue could return to the high court within a year or two as other cases address whether Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars sex discrimination in federally funded schools, may be interpreted today to cover gender identity.

After the Trump administration last month withdrew the Obama-era guidance on transgender rights, both parties urged the court to proceed with the case and decide the underlying question of whether Title IX covers gender identity, although the school board urged a delay to allow the Trump administration to fully formulate its position and express its views in the case.

The court opted instead to send the case back to the 4th Circuit.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 22, 2017 edition of Education Week as U.S. Supreme Court Returns ‘Restroom Case’ to Appeals Court


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