ACLU Will Ask Supreme Court to Block State Law Banning Men From Women’s Sports

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The Supreme Court has given counsel for a transgender middle school student until March 20 to respond to West Virginia’s emergency application to lift a federal appeals court order blocking the state’s Save Women’s Sports Act from taking effect.

The legal action comes as West Virginia and other states take action to make sure women and girls continue to have access to school sports even as males who identify as females take spots on women’s sports teams. Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Arkansas, and Florida have also passed legislation that keeps men from competing in women’s sports.

West Virginia enacted the Save Women’s Sports Act in 2021, which prevents individuals from competing in school sports other than under their birth sex. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit issued an injunction putting the state law on hold, and a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Becky Pepper-Jackson, a 12-year-old who was born male but identifies as female, remains pending. Pepper-Jackson was prevented from joining a girls cross-country team.

The ACLU stated that the statute violates the child’s rights under the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and Title IX, a federal law that bans sex-based discrimination in education.

The emergency application in State of West Virginia v. B.P.J., court file 22A800, was docketed by the high court on March 13. The application, prepared by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, was referred to Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversees the 4th Circuit.

The other applicants include the West Virginia State Board of Education, the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch, and former collegiate soccer player Lainey Armistead.

Represented by the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Armistead previously said the courts should respect the West Virginia law, which ADF says is “a commonsense law that protects equal opportunity, fairness, and safety for women.”

Roberts ordered counsel for the pre-teen, who is identified in the legal action as B.P.J., to reply to the application not later than March 20 at noon.

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