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Federal Judge Criticizes Appeals Court for Swift Action on Idaho Transgender Bathroom Law
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U.S. District Chief Judge Expresses Discontent with Appeals Court’s Handling of Idaho Bathroom Law Case

In a recent legal development, U.S. District Chief Judge David Nye of Idaho has raised concerns regarding the federal appeals court’s rapid intervention in a case involving an Idaho law that restricts transgender students’ access to public school bathrooms. The judge expressed dissatisfaction with the appeals court’s decision to act before allowing him to weigh in on the matter, stating that it bypassed standard court procedures. This article delves into the details of this legal dispute and the implications it holds for transgender rights.

Judge’s Initial Ruling


Earlier this month, Chief Judge David Nye issued a ruling in favor of an Idaho law that mandates public school students to use the bathroom corresponding to their sex assigned at birth. This ruling temporarily set aside a legal challenge put forth by a transgender student (using the pseudonym Rebecca Roe), her family, and a student association. Judge Nye’s decision allowed the law to take effect, much to the dismay of the plaintiffs.

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Plaintiffs’ Appeal and 9th U.S. Circuit Court’s Intervention

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In response to the ruling, the plaintiffs promptly requested that Judge Nye place his order on hold while they pursued an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Simultaneously, they petitioned the 9th Circuit to stay Judge Nye’s order, which the appeals court granted last Thursday.

Judge Nye’s Critique

In a statement issued the following Friday, Judge Nye criticized the sequence of events. He expressed confusion about why the 9th Circuit intervened before waiting for an order from his court. He emphasized the importance of adhering to standard court rules, which required the plaintiffs to seek a stay from him first and wait for his ruling before escalating the matter to the appeals court.

The judge stated, “Respectfully, the Court does not understand why the Ninth Circuit elected to intervene without waiting for an order from this Court.” Judge Nye emphasized that he had made arrangements to evaluate the motion and was taken aback by the 9th Circuit’s preemptive action. While acknowledging the authority of the appeals court, he underscored the need for better procedural coordination.

Plaintiffs’ Perspective

Peter Renn of Lambda Legal, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, explained that Judge Nye’s ruling was set to take effect on November 2. He argued that there was insufficient time to await a ruling before seeking relief from the 9th Circuit. Renn also pointed out that Judge Nye had previously stated that he would not grant an emergency stay if he ruled against the plaintiffs, a fact known to the 9th Circuit.

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Silent Responses

As of the time of this article’s publication, both the Idaho attorney general’s office and the clerk of the 9th Circuit have not provided comments or statements in response to this legal dispute.

Challenging Discriminatory Legislation

The case revolves around a legal challenge brought forward by the family of Rebecca Roe, a transgender student and a student association who sued the state of Idaho in July. They contend that the state law, signed into effect by Republican Governor Brad Little in March, discriminates against individuals based on their gender identity and infringes on students’ right to privacy.

Idaho’s bathroom law also grants students the authority to sue schools for $5,000 if they encounter a transgender student using a bathroom in violation of the law. The legislation obliges schools to provide a “reasonable accommodation” for transgender students who are unwilling or unable to use the restroom aligned with their sex assigned at birth. However, the lawsuit alleges that these alternate accommodations are often subpar, less accessible, and stigmatizing compared to facilities used by other students.

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