Updated at 4:30 p.m. EDT to include information about the state of Idaho.
AUSTIN, May 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Eleven states will sue the Obama administration over a controversial federal guidance requiring public schools and universities to allow transgender students to use the restrooms, showers, and overnight accommodations of the opposite biological sex.
The states filing the lawsuit include Texas, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The lawsuit accuses the Obama administration of turning “educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the multistate legal action during a press conference this afternoon.
The Obama administration's guidance requires schools to give anyone who identifies as transgender access to hotel rooms or dorm rooms, locker rooms, and restroom facilities used by the opposite sex. The Obama administration says this is necessary for transgender people – who account for 0.3 percent of the U.S. population – to feel “safe,” but opponents say it exposes women to the advances of sexual predators who will use the law for their own ends.
Schools that fail to comply could be deemed guilty of violating Title IX, a 1972 law written to prevent discrimination against biological women. Nothing in that law refers to transgender status or gender identity.
Although the Obama administration's guidance does not have the force of law, it holds the implicit threat of withholding billions of dollars in federal education funding from needy schools if it is not implemented.
“In President Obama's final drive to fundamentally transform America, he has pushed aside the concerns of parents and schools, the privacy and safety of students, and ignored the boundaries of his constitutional power,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “We commend Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and these 10 other states for resisting the president's locker room and bathroom decree that sacrifices the privacy and safety of children.”
Many of the plaintiffs cited legal and constitutional protections that constrain the federal government from setting local school policy.
“School policies should be determined by individual states, educators and parents – not dictated by a presidential decree,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in a statement.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery saw it as another example of the president legislating by executive fiat. “Our office has consistently opposed efforts like this to take away states' rights and exclude the people's representatives from making these decisions, or at a minimum being able to engage in a notice and comment period under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA),” he said.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said he opposed the executive branch action, because “the Constitution gives only Congress the power to write and rewrite laws.”
“When a presidential administration wishes to change the law, it must do so appropriately,” agreed Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.
The list of states joining the lawsuit largely matches those that declared the transgender restroom regulations dead on arrival after they were released. While many of the plaintiffs are conservative Republicans, other Republican-led states – such as Arkansas and Indiana – have not yet joined the litigation.
Shortly after today's press conference, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter announced through a spokesman that state officials are “are working on an amicus brief in support of the states.”
“We are also encouraged by the scores of state leaders who are standing up to the Obama administration's unilateral redefinition of federal law,” Perkins said. “It is now time for Republicans in Congress, who have the constitutional authority as a co-equal branch of government, to support these state leaders and bring the imperial White House under control.”