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SCOTUS allows Idaho ban on transgender intervention for minors

united states law

Billion Photos | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 04/18/24

The Justices warned lower courts against broad injunctions after their ruling set legal precedent for states to install similar bans on gender treatment.

In a move that will likely influence the future of many states’ policies on transgender interventions for minors, the US Supreme Court ruled that Idaho may enforce a ban placed on these practices for those under the age of 18. The decision reversed a ruling of the lower court that would have blocked the ban and has created legal precedent for other states wishing to institute similar bans. 

According to the AP, the ban seeks to install penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment for doctors who prescribe hormones, puberty blockers, or other gender related interventions to patients under the age of 18. Now the state is allowed to proceed with the ban, but the two teens who filed the lawsuit may still receive the treatments they were undergoing. 

The case began when these two teenagers – 15 and 16 – sued the state over the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, which would have gone into effect January 1. The law would have prevented further interventions in the teens’ development, as doctors were no longer allowed to prescribe drugs or perform surgeries on minors that were “inconsistent with the child’s biological sex.”

Idaho lawmakers passed the legislation easily, with state Attorney General Raúl Labrador explaining that it is meant to address concerns of safe medical practices: 

“[The law] ensures children are not subjected to these life-altering drugs and procedures. Those suffering from gender dysphoria deserve love, support, and medical care rooted in biological reality. Denying the basic truth that boys and girls are biologically different hurts our kids.”

The lower court, however, ruled that it was discriminatory; it was blocked and sent to appeals until it reached the Supreme Court. 

Reuters reports that the Supreme Court was split on the decision, with the majority ruling that the ban may proceed. In the court’s majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch warned lower courts that broad injunctions may lead to similar rulings:

“Lower courts would be wise to take heed,” Gorsuch wrote in an opinion joined by fellow Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. “Retiring the universal injunction … will lead federal courts to become a little truer to the historic limits of their office.”

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