- Click here for the article.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide within weeks whether to hear a major transgender rights case for the first time, a dispute involving which bathroom a Virginia high school student can use, but the justices have reasons to duck the issue.
The case involves a 17-year-old transgender student named Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male and is mounting a legal challenge to gain the right to use the boys' bathroom at his public high school in Gloucester County, Virginia.
The local school board is asking the justices to hear its appeal of an April 19 ruling by the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found that transgender students are protected under U.S. laws that bar sex-based discrimination.
If the high court refuses to hear the case, the justices would leave in place the groundbreaking appeals court ruling in favor of transgender rights that Grimm could use the bathroom of the student's choice. If the justices hear it, it would be one of the biggest cases of the 2016-17 term that opens Oct. 3.
The Supreme Court remains shorthanded with eight justices, split with four liberals and four conservatives, following the Feb. 13 death of Antonin Scalia. Legal experts say the court may have an incentive to dodge the issue, the latest front line in the battle over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
The high court so far has shown an inclination for its new term toward taking up technical, narrow cases, such as several on intellectual property rights, while it remains down one justice. This may be because the court is eager to avoid issuing 4-4 deadlocked rulings, which happened on four occasions after Scalia's death.
. . . The Supreme Court often lets novel legal issues like transgender bathroom rights percolate in lower courts before taking a case, as it did with gay marriage before ruling in 2015 to allow it nationwide.
The Supreme Court also frequently refuses to take cases in which the various regional federal appeals courts have not issued conflicting rulings. The ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was the first of its kind.
- Click here for the 4th Circuit Court's decision.
For more on the case:
- Reason: US 4th Circuit Rules in Favor of Trans Teen; May Impact North Carolina Law.
- The Guardian: Transgender student in Virginia wins key fight on bathroom access.
- The Atlantic: A Transgender-Rights Ruling Blocked.
- ACLU: G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board.