District Court Halts Obama Administration School Locker Room Directive

In response to a challenge by the State of Texas and 12 other states, a federal judge this week ordered a halt to an Obama Administration gender identity directive to the nation’s public schools. In a 38-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor determined that the Executive Branch failed to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act, and its actions in this case “contradict the existing legislative and regulatory texts.”

The Administration’s “guidance,” released jointly by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education on May 13, determined that schools aided by federal dollars should provide students access to locker rooms, restrooms, and other facilities and activities in accordance with their self-proclaimed gender identity. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the lead in this multi-state court effort against the directive, called it “illegal federal overreach.” Accusing President Obama of working to “rewrite the laws” and threatening school funds, he added, “That cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we took action to protect States and School Districts, who are charged under state law to establish a safe and disciplined environment conducive to student learning.”

NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson welcomed the court’s injunction. “The Obama Administration is off the rails in its overreach. I am thankful for Judge O’Connor’s ruling, but it is concerning that we must continue to rely on courts to keep the Executive Branch at bay. The states are right to defend their constitutional rights. I urge the Congress to act as a federal check as well.”

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, indicated that he plans to bring the U.S. Department of Education before his panel on this matter next month. In a release after this week’s court order, he asserted that the Administration is not empowered “to operate as a national school board” and its “blatant disregard for the rule of law must stop.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: August 26, 2016

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