Court of Appeals is considering overturning stay of Idaho’s transgender sports law

Three judges on the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday in a case to determine whether an injunction blocking Idaho’s transgender youth sports law can remain in effect.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office and attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom appealed in September after US District Court Chief Justice David C. Nye ruled that the injunction was still valid.

Lindsay Hecox, a transgender student at Boise State University, filed the lawsuit in April 2020 after the Idaho legislature passed House Bill 500 that banned transgender girls and women from participating in women’s sports. Idaho was the first state to pass the law, and similar laws were subsequently introduced in 30 other states.

The lawsuit named Gov. Brad Little, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra, the Idaho State Board of Education, Boise State President Marlene Tromp, and others for discrimination for joining the women’s cross-country and track teams wanted to join.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho and Legal Voice represented Hecox in the lawsuit along with Cooley LLP, a Colorado law firm.

Nye granted an injunction in the case in August 2020, blocking the law pending resolution in a district court. Hecox tried and failed for the team.

Hecox withdrew from Boise State University in October 2020, prompting prosecutors to file a request for the injunction to void the entire lawsuit, meaning it would be dismissed. Hecox has said in court filings that she took a leave of absence to work full-time, establish a residence in Idaho, and save money.

Nye ruled in July 2022 that the change in registration status did not invalidate the case. Nye noted that Hecox had gone through with her plans to obtain state residency and re-enlist, after which she planned to try again for the teams.

“While there are some questions about Hecox’s NCAA eligibility, without a restraining order she cannot continue to play football or compete for a spot on the women’s track or cross-country teams,” Nye wrote in the ruling. “Therefore, Hecox’s claim is not disputed.”

The attorney argues that the admissions requirements don’t matter if the student can’t even try it

By April, Hecox had enrolled in nine credits for the spring semester and was playing on the women’s club soccer team with intentions to try his hand at the women’s track and cross-country teams again in the fall semester.

Judges Kim McLane Wardlaw, Andrew J. Kleinfeld, and Ronald M. Gould considered arguments about whether Hecox would qualify for the track and field and cross-country teams based on the NCAA’s eligibility requirements regarding a student’s course load in the School. If Hecox wasn’t eligible for the team anyway, the state argued, the case would be moot.

Andrew Barr, an attorney at Cooley LLP, said the NCAA requirements only affected eligibility after a player was placed on the team as long as the student is enrolled at the school. Idaho’s transgender sports law would bar Hecox from even playing for the team if it were in effect, Barr argued.

“It’s the imposition of a barrier that creates the problem of equal protection,” Barr said during the hearing.

Assistant Attorney General Scott Zanzig argued that the court should dismiss the case and require Hecox to refile it under the new circumstances, and Alliance Defending Freedom Attorney Cody Barnett agreed, calling it an “11th-week trial.” hour,” turning an argument about playing football into one that was originally about a career.

The judges made no final comments on the arguments and are expected to rule in the next few months, according to an ACLU press release.

Idaho Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Idaho Capital Sun maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Christina Lords with any questions: [email protected]. Follow Idaho Capital Sun on Facebook and Twitter.

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