A First: Appeals Court Upholds Law Banning Trans Treatments on Children

A federal appeals court gave the green light for the first time to a state’s ban on transgender treatment on children.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court injunction on Friday and gave Tennessee green light to enforce SB 1 a new statute that prohibits minors from undergoing surgery or using hormones/puberty blocking agents. A district judge had issued an injunction earlier this year to block the portions of the law that dealt with hormones and puberty blocking agents. Tennessee appealed against the injunction.

The vote of the appeals court was 2-1.

In his majority opinion, Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton stated that Tennessee is likely to be successful. Sutton was appointed by President George W. Bush. He was joined by Judge Amul R. Thapar a Trump nominee.

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Sutton wrote, “On one side of the ledger parents are expected to know the best thing for their children.” Sutton wrote that “on the other side of ledger, the state government has an abiding interest to ‘preserve the welfare of children’.”

Citing the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs V. Jackson, Sutton stated that state legislatures play a “critical role” in regulating health, welfare and other issues, and are entitled to a “strong presumption’ of validity.

Sutton said it is best to let the states continue the debate and to keep the courts out of the way.

Sutton wrote that federal courts should be careful not to “substitute” their own views for those of the legislature. “… Due to the high stakes involved in these early policy discussions – the health of children who are experiencing gender dysphoria for the long term – sound governments benefit from more debate and input. They also consider more fair-minded policies. The U.S. Constitution doesn’t help these goals by allowing legislators to speak on one side while muting those on the opposing side.

The ruling was applauded by Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmett whose office defends the law.

Skrmett wrote, “The case is not over yet, but it is a major victory.” The court of appeals lifted an injunction to allow the law to be enforced fully. They also recognized that Tennessee was likely going win both the constitutional argument and case.