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Federal judge refuses to pause Alabama case on gender-affirming care ban amid legal battle

The case is unfolding against a backdrop of widespread legal challenges to similar bans across the U.S.


In a decisive move, U.S. District Judge Liles Burke declined a request from the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday, opting not to put a pause on the ongoing litigation challenging Alabama’s controversial ban on gender-affirming care for minors. This decision comes at a crucial juncture as similar cases gradually ascend towards the U.S. Supreme Court, potentially setting a precedent for future legislation.

The Justice Department had sought a temporary stay on the Alabama case, citing the rapidly changing legal landscape surrounding the issue. This request was predicated on the expectation that appellate courts might soon entertain related petitions questioning the constitutional validity of states enacting such bans.

Judge Burke, however, expressed his intention to let the case proceed for the time being. He indicated that a stay could become a consideration should the appellate courts choose to take up the related petitions.

This legal tussle has its roots deeply embedded in the concerns of transgender youths and their families. A significant development in this saga is the request by these families to the U.S. Supreme Court, urging it to review a decision by an appellate court. This previous ruling allowed similar bans in Kentucky and Tennessee to remain operational. In parallel, in the Alabama context, families with transgender children are appealing to the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reassess a decision that would enable the enforcement of Alabama’s law.

Alabama’s legislation, classifies the provision of puberty blockers or hormones to individuals under 19, aimed at affirming a new gender identity, as a felony. This crime is punishable by up to a decade in prison for medical practitioners. This harsh stance places Alabama among at least 22 states that have adopted laws either banning or severely restricting gender-affirming care for minors.

The case, set for trial in April, is unfolding against a backdrop of widespread legal challenges to similar bans across the United States. Meanwhile, Alabama’s Attorney General Steve Marshall remains steadfast in his commitment to uphold the ban, a stance that has seen the state expend substantial amounts of taxpayer money in legal battles.

As the legal landscape continues to evolve, the outcomes of these cases could significantly shape the future of gender-affirming care and the rights of transgender minors across the United States.

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Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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