State of South Dakota to Join State Attorneys General Challenge to Federal Bathroom and Locker Room Mandate
PIERRE, S.D.- Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that South Dakota will join other State Attorneys General in challenge to President Obama’s letter directive to school districts threatening both civil rights litigation and the withholding of educational funds to the States.
“As Attorney General it was and remains my hope that our country and state can find a solution to the transgender concerns without forcing children of the opposite sex into the same bathrooms and locker rooms. The President’s attempt to require children of opposite sex to share locker rooms and bathrooms under the threat of lawsuit and withholding of education funding is a one size fits all solution that goes beyond his constitutional authority. It is my contention that federal law cannot direct local school districts on who can use locker rooms and bathrooms. These issues need to be handled as they have been for a long time- on the state and local level,” said Jackley.
In 1964, Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, making it illegal for employers to invidiously discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 42 U.S.C.§ 2000e-2. Eight years later, Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX provides that “[n]o person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefit of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…” 20 U.S.C. § 1681. Title IX regulations issued by the Department of Education likewise expressly allow recipients of federal funding to “provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex,” provided that the facilities provided for “students of one sex” are “comparable” to the facilities provided for “students of the other sex.” The term “gender identity: does not appear in the text or regulators of Title IX.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Education (DOE) contend that Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of “sex” extends to discrimination on the basis of “gender identity.” Jackley contends that the DOJ and DOE lack any authority to issue such direction. It is the duty of Congress to legislate and the duty of the Executive Branch, including DOJ and DOE, to administer and enforce the laws that Congress enacts. Through this joint letter, DOJ and DOE have unilaterally attempted to change the clear meaning of law passed by Congress and impose new obligations on covered entities.
A case was filed May 25, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Several Attorneys General anticipate filing an additional challenge to the President’s authority to issue the letter. This filing may be separate from the Texas case or filed in a different district court.