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Federal judge blocks Biden's Title IX transgender protections

A federal judge in Texas halted President Biden’s proposed changes to the interpretation of Title IX on Tuesday, which added protections for transgender students. The changes are the subject of multiple lawsuits from GOP attorneys general nationwide.

The Education Department in April unveiled a final set of sweeping changes to Title IX, the civil rights law preventing sex discrimination in schools and education programs that receive government funding. The new rule, which was slated to take effect Aug. 1, covers discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) sued the federal government after the guidance was first proposed a year ago.

District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled with Paxton, explaining that the federal government “engaged in unlawful agency action taken in excess of their authority, all while failing to adhere to the appropriate notice and comments requirements when doing so.”

The administration’s Title IX revamp would also bolster nondiscrimination protections for pregnant students and change how schools handle claims of sexual harassment and assault.

Paxton and conservative groups commonly file suits in the Northern District of Texas, hoping to be assigned O’Connor, a nominee of former President George W. Bush. He was the judge who ruled in 2018 that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional and ruled in multiple cases that later became landmark Supreme Court decisions, including the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which enshrined the right to gay marriage.

O’Connor has ruled against Democratic presidents’ attempts to expand Title IX before. In 2016, he went against the Obama administration when it gave guidance that colleges and universities could not discriminate by sex, in a similar attempt to expand protections to transgender students. An appeal to his decision was rescinded when former President Trump came to office.

The judge’s reasoning in Tuesday’s ruling, that the Biden administration went beyond its authority and did not allow correct time for comment, is the same as his explanation for the Obama administration decision.

O’Connor chastised the Biden administration, saying its guidance would “functionally rewrite” Title IX and “shockingly transforms American education and usurps a major question from Congress.” 

“That is not how our democratic system functions,” the judge wrote.

Paxton hailed the decision as a victory against government overreach.

“Joe Biden’s unlawful effort to weaponize Title IX for his extremist agenda has been stopped in its tracks,” he said in a statement. “Threatening to withhold education funding by forcing states to accept ‘transgender’ policies that put women in danger was plainly illegal. Texas has prevailed on behalf of the entire Nation.”

The Biden administration has yet to finalize a separate rule governing athletics eligibility. The proposal unveiled by the Education Department last year would prohibit schools from enacting policies that categorically ban transgender student-athletes from sports teams that match their gender identity, with some exceptions.

The Hill has reached out to the Department of Education for comment.

Source: The Hill

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