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State seeks summary judgement in gender care suit

The state argues that the 11th Circuit reversal of the injunction on the law reinforces the state’s right to enforce its law.

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The State of Alabama filed a motion Monday asking for the judge to issue a summary judgment declaring the state’s right to impose a law criminalizing the provision of gender-affirming care.

U.S. District Judge Liles Burke enjoined the state’s law back in 2022, finding it likely that the plaintiffs in the case would succeed in trial on the merits of their arguments.

But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, citing the Supreme Court decision that reversed Roe v. Wade, found that Burke had enjoined the law in error and allowed the law to go into effect.

The state argued in its motion for summary judgement Monday that the ruling by the 11th Circuit ruling reinforces the state’s position and that no trial is necessary to show the state’s right to enforce its law.

“When this Court granted a preliminary injunction two years ago, it did so on a necessarily rushed timeline with sparse facts and no guidance from the Eleventh Circuit. Since then, the factual and legal landscapes have changed dramatically,” the state wrote. “The legal rule in the Eleventh Circuit is now clear: the provisions of Alabama’s Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act that plaintiffs and the United States challenge are ‘subject only to rational basis review.’

“However complex the underlying debate may be about how best to care for minors with gender dysphoria, the standard of review makes the legal questions simple.”

The motion goes on to restate the state’s argument against the use of puberty blockers. The plaintiffs argue that puberty blockers are a “pause button” for adolescents with gender dysphoria to allow time to weigh options without the distress that puberty changes can cause in dysphoric youth. The state argues that puberty could lead the youth’s gender incongruence to cease.

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The state also attacked the plaintiffs’ relied-upon medical associations, particularly the guidelines provided by WPATH.

“In short, neither the Court nor Alabama need treat WPATH as anything other than the activist interest group it has shown itself to be,” the motion states.

In contrast, the state pointed to its medical experts as reliable, although Burke noted in his ruling enjoining the law that he did not find at least one of the state’s experts, James Cantor, to have any relevant expertise to the proceeding.

The state also includes the possibility of individuals who regret transitioning, even though rates of de-transitioning are low.

“… across America—across the Western world—heartbreaking instances of regret and detransition are occurring. There is no reason to think Alabama’s children have been spared.””

The plaintiffs naturally have 21 days to respond to the motion, but filed an unopposed motion Wednesday for a 14-day extension.

In a hearing last week, Burke said he would entertain the motion for summary judgment, but also seemed inclined toward plaintiffs’ argument to see what happens with other court systems as similar laws are being considered right now.

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If the case does continue to a full trial, it will likely begin October 27, as all parties discussed moving the trial to that date if Burke does decide to delay the case. 

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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