Supreme Court to decide if Tennessee can ban trans surgeries for kids

U.S. Supreme Court building
U.S. Supreme Court building | Nicole Alcindor/Christian Post

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to determine whether Tennessee can prohibit body-mutilating sex-change surgeries and irreversible puberty-blocking drugs for children exhibiting gender dysphoria.

In an orders list released Monday morning, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal in the case of United States v. Jonathan Skrmetti et al., with oral arguments not expected until the fall.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a progressive legal group known for its opposition to such state laws, is helping to represent the families suing Tennessee over the law.

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“The Court has the power to protect trans youth’s right to access the healthcare they need by striking down this discriminatory law,” said Lucas Cameron-Vaughn, staff attorney at the ACLU of Tennessee, in a statement.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to fiercely advocate for trans youth and their families, ensuring they have the autonomy to access the care they need to survive and thrive, and the Court has the opportunity to make that future a reality.”

In March of last year, Tennessee passed Senate Bill 1, which prohibits healthcare providers from performing genital mutilation surgeries or giving puberty blockers to minors suffering from confusion over their sex.

“The legislature declares that the integrity and public respect of the medical profession are significantly harmed by healthcare providers performing or administering such medical procedures on minors. This state has a legitimate, substantial, and compelling interest in protecting minors from physical and emotional harm,” explained the findings of the legislation.

“This state has a legitimate, substantial, and compelling interest in protecting the integrity of the medical profession, including by prohibiting medical procedures that are harmful, unethical, immoral, experimental, or unsupported by high-quality or long-term studies, or that might encourage minors to become disdainful of their sex.”

The following month, the ACLU, Lambda Legal and others sued the state over the new law on behalf of trans-identified minors and their families, with the U.S. Department of Justice filing a complaint in intervention on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Although a lower court would put a preliminary injunction in place against the new law, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit allowed the measure to take effect.

Last September, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit ruled 2-1 to uphold the law, with Circuit Chief Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a President George W. Bush appointee, authoring the majority opinion.

“There is a long tradition of permitting state governments to regulate medical treatments for adults and children,” wrote Sutton. “So long as a federal statute does not stand in the way and so long as an enumerated constitutional guarantee does not apply, the States may regulate or ban medical technologies they deem unsafe.”  

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