Federal attorneys asserted in a statement of interest filing that a West Virginia law forbidding transgender youth athletes from competing in women’s sports was unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX of Education Amendments of 1972. The Justice Department claimed the law should be reversed.
"The United States has a significant interest in ensuring that all students, including students who are transgender, can participate in an educational environment free of unlawful discrimination and that the proper legal standards are applied to claims under Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause," the DOJ announced in its filing.
The Justice Department made a similar argument in a statement of interest on a lawsuit linked to a law in Arkansas, which banned "gender-affirming care" like hormone therapy and puberty blockers for transgender youth. Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed the law, called the "Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act," though the state legislature reversed his verdict.
As in the West Virginia filing, federal attorneys said the law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
"Prohibiting medically necessary care in the manner proscribed by Act 626 amounts to intentional discrimination against transgender minors on the basis of sex," the DOJ stated.
The DOJ called the Arkansas law "dangerous governmental intrusion." One of the provisions in the state law prevents doctors from performing gender reassignment surgeries.
"Rather than rely on the judgment of medical professionals and evidence-based treatment guidelines, Arkansas has inserted itself within one of the most confidential and personal of relationships: the physician-patient relationship," the DOJ wrote.
The DOJ went on to say that under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, individuals have the right to nondiscriminatory access to health care.
The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare, was upheld by the Supreme Court on Thursday in a 7-2 ruling.
Both statements of interest were filed in response to lawsuits supported by the American Civil Liberties Union. Critics of the laws enacted in West Virginia, Arkansas and many other states claim they are discriminatory and inhumane.
In January, President Biden signed an executive order ordering public schools to let transgender athletes compete on sports teams that align with their gender identity. The order indicated schools that do not comply could lose their federal funding under Title IX, which bars sex-based discrimination.
Earlier this week, Biden’s Education Department announced that transgender students were protected under Title IX. The Trump administration argued that gender identity was not protected under the provision.