The US Supreme Court has rejected a request from West Virginia to effectively make a ruling on who can compete in women’s sport.
The nation’s highest court denied an application to vacate a lower court injunction in a case that would have prevented a trans-identified male athlete from competing on a girls’ middle school track team.
The Save Women’s Sport Act was signed into West Virginia law nearly two years ago but has since been blocked from taking effect.
It would ban biological males from participating in female sports teams at high school and college level.
The law cites differences between men and women that give males an advantage in athletic events.
A federal district court judge temporarily put a hold on the law on behalf of a transgender student but then changed his mind and ruled in favour of the State.
The Christian Post reports a Court of Appeals then blocked it again by a 2-1 majority.
In its request to the Supreme Court, the state argued: “The majority did not provide any legal or factual reasoning for its decision. Nor did it question the district court’s analysis or record review. Instead, it gave a one-sentence notice of the grant and entered an injunction on appeal.”
Justice Samuel Alito authored a dissent to the Supreme Court’s denial, being joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, objecting to the lack of stated reasons for why the injunction was allowed to remain in effect.
“I would grant the State’s application. Among other things, enforcement of the law at issue should not be forbidden by the federal courts without any explanation,” wrote Justice Alito.
He conceded it was “true that West Virginia allowed the District Court’s injunction to go unchallenged for nearly 18 months before seeking emergency relief” and that it was “a wise rule in general that a litigant whose claim of urgency is belied by its own conduct should not expect discretionary emergency relief from a court.”
“But in the circumstances present here — where a divided panel of a lower court has enjoined a duly enacted state law on an important subject without a word of explanation, notwithstanding that the District Court granted summary judgment to the State based on a fact-intensive record—the State is entitled to relief,” he continued.
West Virginia had argued in its request to the Supreme Court that: “The Court of Appeals’ unreasoned order unjustifiably upsets the way that things traditionally work in school sports. For as long as schools have offered sports teams, it has been the ‘norm’ to designate student athletes to them by sex.”
The Supreme Court has previously declined to weigh in on women’s sport cases.