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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 20, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 21
SCOTUS rejects review of Trans-protecting precedent
Section One
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SCOTUS rejects review of Trans-protecting precedent

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The US Supreme Court announced May 16 that it would not accept review of a legal precedent used by the Fourth Circuit Court in their landmark April ruling that public schools must allow Transgender students to use restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

The precedent at issue, known as Auer v. Robbins, was decided in 1997, and held that courts should defer to a federal agency's own interpretation of its regulations.

In the Fourth Circuit ruling, the court said that the Department of Education guidelines on Title IX should prevail. Those rules say that Trans students are protected by the law's ban on discrimination on account of sex. The appeal rejected by the Supreme Court, United Student Aid Funds v. Bryana Bible, did not involve Transgender people at all. It was, in fact, a case about student debt collection, but it was based on a challenge to the Auer v. Robbins precedent.

As is customary when the Supreme Court denies review, the court did not provide any reasoning backing up its decision. Justice Clarence Thomas did file a dissent, however.

Many Supreme Court justices no longer agree with the Auer precedent, Thomas said.

'Any reader of this Court's opinions should think that the doctrine is on its last gasp,' he wrote in his dissent. 'Members of this Court have repeatedly called for its reconsideration in an appropriate case.'

He noted that Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito, and the late Justice Antonin Scalia all called for the doctrine to be reconsidered in several cases.

Nevertheless, Roberts and Alito did not join Thomas's dissent. It is not clear if they wanted to hear the case. Four votes are required for the high court to accept review of a case from a lower court, but who voted which way is never revealed to the public.

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