SCOTUS Upholds Gender Care Ban in Idaho

( – Conservative-led states have taken extraordinary steps to protect their underaged residents from the harms associated with gender-affirming treatments. However, various civil liberty groups, LGBTQ+ organizations, and transgender adolescents have attempted to thwart those efforts through legal action. The US Supreme Court recently weighed in on an Idaho case, paving the way for state officials to begin enforcing a gender care ban in the state.

On April 15, the Supreme Court issued a ruling providing temporary relief to Idaho officials seeking the ability to enforce a new law criminalizing the provision of gender-affirming treatments to minors. State legislators passed the Idaho Vulnerable Child Protection Act (Idaho Code § 18-1506) in May 2023. The law bans the provision of cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers, and certain surgical procedures for adolescents who think they are transgender.

SCOTUS approved Idaho’s petition to block a state-wide restraining order issued by a lower court blocking the new law’s enforcement. The justices ruled that state officials could enforce the statute against anyone not named as a plaintiff in the original civil complaint while a legal challenge to the law worked its way through the lower courts.

The Supreme Court held that the lower court improperly applied standing precedent when it ordered a broad restriction on the law’s enforcement throughout the state. The order explained that the plaintiffs only sought protection from a small portion of the law. However, the lower court’s decision arbitrarily barred the state from enforcing 20+ other stipulations included in the statute that protect the state’s “vulnerable children” from potentially “risky and dangerous medical procedures.”

Two transgender girls and their parents filed a federal lawsuit to block the statute on constitutional grounds on May 31, 2023, and requested a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the law. The district court granted that request on December 26, 2024, preventing the law from going into effect on January 1.

Idaho Attorney General Raúl R. Labrador appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, a three-judge panel denied the motion to block the lower court’s injunction on January 30, and the full panel reached the same conclusion a week later.

On February 16, Labrador applied for a stay with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. She subsequently referred the application to the full court which granted the request.

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