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Arkansas attorney general files suit challenging Title IX expansion

Attorney General Tim Griffin announces lawsuit against the Biden administration's Title IX expansion
Nathan Treece
Little Rock Public Radio
Attorney General Tim Griffin announces a lawsuit against the Biden administration's Title IX expansion in a news conference Tuesday.

The attorneys general of Arkansas and Missouri have announced a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s expansion of Title IX.

Title IX prevents discrimination of students on the basis of sex. The lawsuit argues that Title IX defines sex as a binary of male or female, not a broader category of gender identity as included in the Biden Administration's expansion of the law.

Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota are also listed as plaintiffs in the suit. In a news conference Tuesday, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey called the changes an attack on women’s rights.

“[Biden's] attempt to expand the concept of 'discrimination based on sex' to include radical transgender ideology is a perversion of the plain meaning of the statute,” he said.

Regarding the legal basis for the suit, Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin listed several allegations including First Amendment violations, and stating the president does not have constitutional authority to make these changes.

"There's a process for this," Griffin said. "It is well articulated in the Constitution. It doesn't change because you're frustrated with Congress. It doesn't change because you can't get elected to Congress the people you want to change the law.”

The suit also alleges that the rule change was “arbitrary and capricious.”

Varsity high school basketball player Amelia Ford is also named as a plaintiff in the suit. She believes the expanded law will lead to men sharing locker rooms, hotel rooms, or restrooms designated for women.

"These same officials have also said that these boys must be allowed to compete against me on the basketball courts and even have the ability to take away my spot to play on these teams. That is not okay," said Ford. "You don't just become a girl by what you feel, or by what you think. The government should not force us to disregard comment sense and reality, especially not by using Title IX, a law meant to protect women’s opportunities.”

While the changes to Title IX do not specifically address athletics, Griffin says instances, such as those Ford mentioned, were a “natural outflow” resulting from the Biden Administration’s changes.

Griffin says, though these incidents have not yet happened in Arkansas, they should be stopped before they can occur. In response to a question, Griffin stated he does not see the lawsuit as harmful to transgender students.

On May 2, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued an executive order saying the state would not comply with the expanded Title IX definitions.

Griffin said the lawsuit is directly related to everything Sanders outlined in the executive order and said the best thing to do now is to achieve a stay on enforcement of the expanded law, leaving state law to predominate.

The lawsuit asks for a stay of the effective date and to vacate the changes to Title IX, declaring them unlawful.

Nathan Treece is a reporter and local host of NPR's Morning Edition for Little Rock Public Radio.
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