The Supreme Court issued an order Monday to send transgender teen Gavin Grimm’s case back to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
The case was scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court later in March.
The order issued Monday says the decision was made ‘in light of the guidance document issued by the Department of Education and Department of Justice on February 22, 2017.’
That document revoked federal guidelines that gave transgender students the right to use public school bathrooms that match the gender they identify with.
According to the Washington Post, the document did not provide new guidance, just said the memos issued by the Obama administration were confusing, lacked legal analysis, did not go through a public vetting process, and drew legal challenges.
The Supreme Court’s new decision means the case will go back to a court of appeals and likely removes the possibility that the Supreme Court will hear it this term. It also vacates a previous decision by a lower court in Grimm’s case.
Grimm’s attorney with the ACLU made several comments on Twitter about the order, saying, “Obviously disappointed SCOTUS is remanding Gavin’s case to CA4, but it is a detour, not the end of the road. We will be in CA4 making our case, and then back in SCOTUS again if necessary. Unfortunately, this means that far too many trans kids across the country will be held in limbo for another 1-2 years. With the dep of ed [sic] no longer protecting them, we (and other orgs) will continue to fight for Gavin and other trans kids in court anywhere in the country.”
The lower court will now have to answer the bigger — and far more important — question of whether federal law and not just Executive Branch interpretations of it treat discrimination on the basis of gender identity as tantamount to sex discrimination. The Supreme Court’s announcement has the effect of letting a lower court answer that question first.