MS Attorney General says MS will not join transgender bathroom l - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: |


MS Attorney General says MS will not join transgender bathroom lawsuit

Source: Raycom Media Source: Raycom Media

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says Mississippi will not join 11 other states in the federal lawsuit against the Obama administration over it's directive on transgender bathrooms.

"The governor has opted to join Texas in its broad lawsuit against the federal government in his capacity as governor alone," said Hood in a statement Thursday afternoon. "Only the attorney general can represent our state in such lawsuits, which includes all branches of government and, more important, all of the people of our state. I cannot lend the name of the state of Mississippi to this lawsuit." 

"Last year, the Office of Attorney General joined a lawsuit in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the Department of Justice from interfering with the way in which local schools operate their restrooms. For that reason, I chose not to join the Texas lawsuit," Hood continued. "I also have concerns on issues of standing in the Texas suit because no federal funding has been withheld from any school.  Moreover, I have a different legal opinion as to how the United States Supreme Court will finally decide the issue.

Earlier Thursday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said he plans to join the lawsuit over the Obama administration. directive, which instructed U.S. public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room facilities that match their gender identity. 

Bryant said in a Facebook post that this directive is the 'latest example of federal overreach'.

The suit is the latest response in the escalating battle over "bathroom bills" that began with the March passage of North Carolina's HB2.

Lieutenant Governor Reeves commented on this saying, "“I appreciate Gov. Bryant representing Mississippi kids’ interest in this lawsuit fighting massive federal overreach into our communities,” 

The 11 other states that Mississippi will be joining in the lawsuit are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Earlier in May, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education released a letter outlining the new policy to give schools guidance on the policy.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a news conference on Wednesday that President Barack Obama is "creating new law outside of the Constitution and Congress."

Paxton said he was not sure how much the lawsuit would cost the state of Texas, but the state would take the case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

According to The Washington Post, the lawsuit states the directive has no legal basis and could cause "seismic changes in the operations of the nation’s school districts."

Paxton has not met with any transgender students or their parents, but said he is open to meeting with anyone about this lawsuit.

Also speaking at the news conference was David Thweatt, Superintendent of the Harrold, TX, Independent School District. Thweatt said that the Obama administration is threatening to harm their school district economically because they adopted "common-sense privacy protections."

Thweatt said that the Harrold school district, that numbers about 100 students, does not have any transgender students.

However, he defends the lawsuit because the policy was forced upon them by the federal government at the risk of losing funding.

The issue of gender identity and bathrooms gained national attention after the North Carolina legislature overturned a Charlotte city ordinance that was passed in February. North Carolina is not one of the 11 states suing the government.

Passed in March, North Carolina's House Bill 2 requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their birth certificates. The law also says that local measures can't expand anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.

A ruling in April by a federal judge in Richmond, VA, threatened the part of HB2 that affected making transgender students in public schools and universities use bathrooms corresponding to their birth gender. The directive from the U.S. Justice and Education Departments followed up by citing Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in public schools receiving public funding.

Supporters said the measure protects women and children from men who are sexual predators who might masquerade as the opposite sex to gain access to public restrooms.

The law applied to all public facilities in schools.

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