Federal Court Allows Red State Ban On Child Sex Changes To Take Effect

(ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

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A federal appeals court allowed Tennessee’s ban on child sex change procedures to take effect, granting the state’s emergency motion to stay a lower court’s injunction.

Trump-appointed Judge Eli Richardson temporarily blocked Tennessee’s law on June 29, just days before it was set to take effect, voicing concerns that it interfered with parents’ “fundamental right to direct the medical care of their children.” After midnight July 8, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Tennessee’s request to pause the preliminary injunction while the appeal is pending.

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill into law in March. The law prohibits healthcare providers from providing minors with sex-change procedures such as surgeries, puberty blockers, cross sex hormones and “any drug or device” intended for those purposes. (RELATED: Tennessee Legislature Passes Ban On Child Sex Changes)

“Both sides have the same fear, just in opposite directions—one saying the procedures create health risks that cannot be undone, the other saying the absence of such procedures creates risks that cannot be undone,” Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote in the opinion, joined by Judge Amul Thapar, a Trump appointee. “What makes it bearable to choose between the two sides is the realization that not every choice is for judges to make. In this instance, elected representatives made these precise cost-benefit decisions and did not trigger any reasons for skeptical review in doing so.”

The court acknowledged their initial view “may be wrong” and expedited the appeal of the preliminary injunction to be resolved before September 30, 2023.

Judge Helene White, a George W. Bush appointee, dissented, writing that the law “likely discriminates against Plaintiffs on the basis of sex in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.”

“Because I believe that Tennessee’s law is likely unconstitutional based on Plaintiffs’ theory of sex discrimination, I would not stay the district court’s injunction, although I would narrow its scope,” she wrote.

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