The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) will appeal a Texas judge’s injunction that has prevented the Obama administration from implementing new guidelines protecting transgender students.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor (R) originally issued the injunction in August, one day before the start of the school year. The temporary measure meant that public schools across the United States would not have to comply with the administration’s guidelines. The injunction was to remain in place until the case was heard before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The DOJ had originally requested the court issue a ruling by October 3, 2016 and a hearing took place on September 30th, however the court has not yet issued a ruling.
“Given the way the injunction binds the government agencies and DOJ, I think there is a good chance they might get a stay.”
The DOJ filed documents stating they will file formal notice of the appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on or before October 20th. Ken Upton, the senior counsel at the LGBT civil rights group Lambda Legal, told the Texas Observer in an interview that it could be March or April 2017 before the 5th Circuit rules on whether to overturn the injunction. It would first have to go back to Judge O’Connor, who will most likely deny it, before the DOJ could bring it before the Fifth Circuit and eventually the Supreme Court if required. “Given the way the injunction binds the government agencies and DOJ, I think there is a good chance they might get a stay,” Upton said.
Leading the charge against transgender rights is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who in addition to the current injunction has also filed a suit to remove transgender protections The Affordable Care Act. Paxton’s spokesperson Marc Rylander has said the Attorney General’s office is looking forward to defending the injunction. “Texas appreciates the thoughtful nationwide injunction from the district court that recognized the federal government overstepped its bounds,” Rylander also said.
Judge O’Conner has until this Thursday to rule on the injunction, otherwise he will lose jurisdiction over the case. “I think you could call it a friendly reminder that if he doesn’t rule by Thursday he’s going to lose jurisdiction of the case and it’s going to the 5th Circuit as is,” Upton said.