FORT WORTH, Texas — A federal judge in Texas has reiterated that his previous preliminary injunction banning the enforcement of the Obama administration’s recent restroom directives for public schools applies nationwide, and has refused to budge on the matter.
“It is clear from Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit precedent that this Court has the power to issue a nationwide injunction where appropriate,” U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor wrote on Tuesday. “A nationwide injunction is necessary because the alleged violation extends nationwide. Defendants are a group of agencies and administrators capable of enforcing their guidelines nationwide, affecting numerous state and school district facilities across the country.”
As previously reported, O’Connor determined in August that the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice had not followed the proper channels in issuing the nationwide guidance, and suggested that the departments’ interpretation of federal law was incorrect.
“It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex … following passage of Title IX meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth,” he wrote.
“Without question, permitting educational institutions to provide separate housing to male and female students, and separate educational instruction concerning human sexuality, was to protect students’ personal privacy, or discussion of their personal privacy, while in the presence of members of the opposite biological sex,” O’Connor explained.
The U.S. Department of Justice soon requested that the court limit the injunction to only the states involved in the lawsuit, and asked for clarification on the matter. On Tuesday, O’Connor advised that his August order applied nationwide, and denied the government’s request that the ban only apply to the plaintiffs in the case.
“Should the court only limit the injunction to the plaintiff states who are a party to this cause of action, the court risks a ‘substantial likelihood that a geographically-limited injunction would be ineffective,'” he wrote. “Accordingly, Defendants’ Motion to Clarify is denied as they request that the court limit the injunction to plaintiff states.”
As previously reported, over 20 states sued the Obama administration in June and July over its guidelines requiring schools to accommodate students’ “gender identity” or “internal sense of gender” under threat of losing their federal funding.
“A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity,” the May directive from the Department of Education and the Department of Justice read. “A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so.”
“As a condition of receiving federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations,” it warned.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded O’Connor’s national injunction following this week’s order.
“The court’s reaffirmation of a nationwide injunction should send a clear message to the president that Texas won’t sit idly by as he continues to ignore the Constitution,” he said in a statement. “The president cannot rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people and then threaten to take away funding from schools to force them to fall in line.”