State attorney general leads fight against Biden policy on ‘gender identity’

By: - July 26, 2022 3:49 pm
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery is leading 22 states in legal action to stop President Joe Biden’s Administration from threatening to withhold a federal nutrition program from schools that violate “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” policies.

Slatery and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Tennessee’s Eastern District to keep the federal government from enforcing what the attorneys general call “an expansive and unlawful interpretation of federal anti-discrimination laws.” The group is asking the court to declare the new federal rule invalid and unlawful and to prohibit enforcement.

The group of 22 attorneys general contend the federal government will withdraw funding for an important food assistance program if schools don’t meet the “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” guidelines. Tennessee received $2.6 billion in fiscal 2020-21 for the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

The coalition is challenging new regulations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would force states and schools to adopt “unlawful application” of a Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton dealing with anti-discrimination requirements.

Their lawsuit contends states don’t deny benefits based on a household member’s sexual orientation or gender idenity. “But the states do challenge the unlawful and unnecessary new obligations and liabilities that the Memoranda and Final Rule attempt to impose – obligations that apparently stretch as far as ending sex-separated living facilities and athletics and mandating the use of biologically inaccurate preferred pronouns,” the filing states.

The attorneys general contend the “transformative” changes were adopted without giving states and other groups a chance to give input required by the Administrative Procedures Act.

The lawsuit comes after 26 attorneys general called for President Biden to withdraw the USDA’s guidance in a June 14 letter.

“This case is, yet again, about a federal agency trying to change law, which is Congress’ exclusive prerogative,” Slatery said in a statement. “The USDA simply does not have that authority. We have successfully challenged the Biden Administration’s other attempts to rewrite law and we will challenge this as well.”

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Sam Stockard
Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state's best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association.