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Judge dismisses Nassau County suit against AG Tish James centered on trans sports ban

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit brought by Nassau County against New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has urged the county to withdraw a controversial transgender sports ban.

The county filed the lawsuit last month in an effort to prevent James from taking her own legal action over the ban, which prevents transgender women and girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity in about 100 county-run facilities.

The dismissal of the suit was not unexpected. Last week, the judge, Nusrat Choudhury, ruled that the county lacked standing to bring the lone claim in its complaint against James, a Democrat.

Nassau County’s Republican executive, Bruce Blakeman, said Friday that he would appeal the decision.

“I am shocked that a federal judge with a background as a Civil Liberties Union lawyer would not give girls and women their day in court,” Blakeman said in a statement.

Bruce Blakeman

New York Republican senatorial candidate Bruce Blakeman delivers his concession speech to supporters, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Frank Franklin II/AP

Bruce Blakeman vowed to appeal the decision. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Blakeman has presented the ban as an effort to prevent transgender women and girls from gaining an unfair competitive advantage in sports. He has not cited examples of such an issue surfacing in his county, instead predicting that it will emerge in the future.

Nassau County’s ban does not apply to transgender men playing in men’s sports.

Before Blakeman filed the complaint, James urged Blakeman to rescind the ban in a statement that described the order as “transphobic and blatantly illegal.” Her office also penned a cease-and-desist letter to the county.

But as of Friday, James’ office had not sued over the ban.

Her spokeswoman Alexis Richards issued a statement Friday saying that the decision represented a “tremendous victory for justice and the rule of law.” But the statement added, “It’s past time for Nassau County to rescind this order.”

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23: Demonstrators listen to the speaking program during an "Our Bodies, Our Sports" rally for the 50th anniversary of Title IX at Freedom Plaza on June 23, 2022 in Washington, DC. The rally, organized by multiple athletic women's groups was held to call on U.S. President Joe Biden to put restrictions on transgender females and "advocate to keep women's sports female."(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Republicans appear to see trans sports bans as a winning issue. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Blakeman’s complaint sought a declaratory judgment holding that the county order is legal. The Republican did not get it.

In court filings, James’ office accused Nassau County of breaking state and federal law, and requested the dismissal of Blakeman’s suit. But her legal team did not use the case, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, as the context to ask a judge to quash the ban.

Separately, the New York Civil Liberties Union has taken Nassau County to state court over the ban.

The NYCLU’s complaint, filed in State Supreme Court on behalf of a Nassau County women’s roller derby league, charges that the ban demands discrimination on the basis of gender identity in violation of state law. The lawsuit says the league, the Long Island Roller Rebels, has at least one member who could be barred from playing under the ban.

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 20: LGBTQ rights supporters gather at the Texas State Capitol to protest state Republican-led efforts to pass legislation that would restrict the participation of transgender student athletes on the first day of the 87th Legislature's third special session on September 20, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Following a second special session that saw the passage of controversial voting and abortion laws, Texas lawmakers have convened at the Capitol for a third special session to address more of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's conservative priorities which include redistricting, the distribution of federal COVID-19 relief funds, vaccine mandates and restrictions on how transgender student athletes can compete in sports. (Photo by Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images)
Democrats say trans sports bans are cruel. (Photo by Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images)

The case has been stayed because Nassau County has sought to move it to federal court, according to the NYCLU.

“This is not about the merits of our case but a delay tactic by Blakeman, which we’ll strongly oppose,” Arianna Fishman, a spokeswoman for the NYCLU, wrote in an email Friday.


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