Ten states including Michigan, Ohio and Kansas sued the Obama administration on Friday, saying the federal government does not have the power to tell states that transgender people must be allowed to use public bathrooms that conform with their gender identity.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Lincoln, Nebraska, took issue with a May 13 letter sent by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education to states. The letter warned that states could lose federal funding if they required transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their biological sex. The states argued that this was an attempt to rewrite federal civil rights laws that do not apply to transgender people.
Thirteen other states have brought a similar challenge in federal court in Texas.
Friday's lawsuit was filed by the attorneys general of the states, which also include Nebraska, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming.
"When a federal agency takes such unilateral action in an attempt to change the meaning of established law, it leaves state and local authorities with no other option than to pursue legal clarity in federal court," Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, a Republican, said in a statement.
The Obama administration's letter said transgender people are protected by prohibitions on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to employment, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which applies to federally funded schools. States collectively receive billions of dollars in federal education funding each year that can be taken away as a penalty for violating Title IX.
The case is Nebraska v. United States of America, U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, No. 4:16-cv-03117.
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