Tennessee's democratically elected lawmakers and governor successfully executed the will of the people last month, passing a law prohibiting health care providers both from mutilating children's genitals and administering them irreversible puberty blockers. The law goes into effect on July 1 — unless, of course, the Biden Department of Justice gets its way.
The DOJ filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to block Senate Bill 1, claiming the law violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by discriminating against "transgender youth."
The suit brought this week against Tennessee alleges as a fact that "every person has a gender identity."
Echoing the American Medical Association, the suit further suggests that genital mutilation and puberty blockers are "medically appropriate and necessary."
"No person should be denied access to necessary medical care just because of their transgender status," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division.
Clarke added, "The right to consider your health and medically approved treatment options with your family and doctors is a right that everyone should have, including transgender children, who are especially vulnerable to serious risks of depression, anxiety, and suicide."
U.S. Attorney Henry Leventis for the Middle District of Tennessee concurred, stating, "Left unchallenged, [SB 1] would prohibit transgender children from receiving health care that their medical providers and their parents have determined to be medically necessary. In doing so, the law seeks to substitute the judgment of trained medical professionals and parents with that of elected officials and codifies discrimination against children who already face far too many obstacles."
State Republicans answered back, indicating they wouldn't be cowed on the issue.
Gov. Bill Lee said in a statement Wednesday night, "This is federal overreach at its worst, and we will work with Attorney General Skrmetti to push back in court and stand up for children."
"Tennessee is committed to protecting children from permanent, life-altering decisions," added Lee.
State Attorney General Jonathan Skremtti (R) responded to the suit, stating, "The federal government has joined the ACLU and an elite New York law firm in attacking a bipartisan law that protects children from irreversible harm. I welcome the opportunity to litigate these issues and vigorously defend Tennessee law."
Republican state Rep. Jason Zachary noted an apparent inconsistency on the part of the DOJ, listing various things minors cannot do in the state of Tennessee, extra to having their genitals removed by surgeons, including getting a tattoo, voting, working full-time, donating blood, and buying a car.
The DOJ appears emboldened after its success last year in challenging Alabama's Senate Bill 184 — a law that imposed a felony ban on child genital mutilation.
Judge Liles C. Burke of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama granted the DOJ a preliminary injunction blocking parts of the law in May 2022, reported the Daily News.
Burke specifically targeted the parts of the law that barred medical practitioners from prescribing puberty blockers.
According to the Alabama Political Reporter, as of January 2023, the state has had to spend over $1 million on legal counsel to defend the law and the state's children by extension.
The law is not presently being enforced.
Assistant Attorney General Clarke made clear in a March 31, 2022, letter to state attorneys general that the DOJ and the Biden administration "have a strong interest in protecting the constitutional rights of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, nonbinary, or otherwise gender-nonconforming, and in ensuring compliance with federal civil rights statutes."
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