Department of Justice slams WV transgender ban, sues state

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) slammed West Virginia’s new law banning transgender athletes from competing in female sports. The DOJ says the law violates Title IX as well as the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and filed what’s known as a “statement of interest” lawsuit against the state.

Shortly after, West Virginia’s Attorney General says he’ll go back into the courtroom to defend the law. Patrick Morrisey says he’ll also appeal a temporary injunction preventing the state from stopping payroll deductions for union dues.

The announcements came just a few hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against GOP-dominated states, including West Virginia, trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Morrisey had made West Virginia a part of the GOP coalition suing to kill the act, which the court in a 7-2 decision said had no legal standing in federal court.

The A-C-L-U and several other organizations sued the state in late May to stop implementation of the ban, approved during the 2021 legislative session, on transgender athletes from competing in female sports in middle and high schools and colleges. That suit was filed on the behalf of an 11-year old transgender girl in Harrison County.

Although the suit, filed in federal court, named the Harrison County School Superintendent and the Harrison County School Board as the defendants Morrisey has asked the court to allow the state to intervene.

“There’s good reason for our office to intervene: chief among them is the Attorney General’s constitutional duty to protect the state’s interest,” said Morrisey. “Defending this law will also preserve the many opportunities Title IX opened up for girls and women everywhere.”

On the union dues issue, the Attorney General says he will appeal a temporary injunction which requires the state to keep deducting union dues from public employees’ paychecks. The legislature passed the state’s “paycheck protection law” which says the state is no longer required to deduct union dues from paychecks. The law was challenged by the AFL/CIO and various union chapters on the grounds the law violates the equal protection guaranteed by the US Constitution.

“The state Supreme Court ruled last year that it is fully constitutional to say an employee cannot be forced to pay into a union, and as such, we feel confident the state will prevail in this instance involving a narrower question – whether the state must provide an automatic payroll deduction,” said Morrisey.

The motion to lift the injunction was filed with the state Supreme Court of Appeals.

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