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Tennessee attorney general bucks party, says defying Biden's trans-athlete protection 'undermines' rule of law

The Tennessee attorney general told Fox News Digital that GOP officials refusing to abide by the Biden administration’s revisions to Title IX “undermines the rule of law."

The Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said fellow Republican officials refusing to abide by the Biden administration’s revisions to Title IX "undermines the rule of law."

"I don't think it's ever a good idea to skip the legal process," Skrmetti told Fox News Digital

Instead of defying Biden’s law changes, Skrmetti and Kentucky Attorney General Russell Coleman are fighting back "hard" in the court system.

Skrmetti’s comments came after he and Coleman announced on Tuesday that they are leading six states in suing the Department of Education due to the overhaul of Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act. The other states joining Tennessee and Kentucky are Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. 

Court documents show further that the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. 


The Biden administration unveiled new rules aimed at safeguarding LGBTQ+ students and changing the ways in which sexual harassment and assault claims are adjudicated on campus.

Under the new rules, sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation. A school must not separate or treat people differently based on sex, except in limited circumstances, under the provisions and critics say that the change will allow locker rooms and bathrooms to be based on gender identity.

LGBTQ+ students who face discrimination will be entitled to a response from their school under Title IX, and those failed by their schools can seek recourse from the federal government.

Missing from the new rule, however, is a policy forbidding schools from enacting outright bans on transgender athletes competing against biological females.

Other GOP state officials, like Texas Gov. Greg Abott, are taking action against the Title IX changes outside the court system. 

Abbott announced that his state would not be implementing changes to Title IX protections. In a letter sent to the White House on Monday, Abbott rebuked the Biden administration's expansion of Title IX protections to protect "gender identity."


Furthermore, GOP leaders in Oklahoma and Florida are telling schools not to conform to President Biden's changes to Title IX policies.

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters announced Thursday morning that he has instructed schools within his state not to comply with the Biden administration's changes to Title IX, which include gender identity protection.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Skrmetti said that the U.S. is "based on the rule of law" and that "the constitution is our law."

"The court system is there to resolve these disputes. So if the federal government does something unconstitutional, the right thing to do is get the courts to declare it unconstitutional," Skrmetti said.

He explained that ignoring the law, no matter regardless of political affiliation, "undermines the rule of law and ultimately threatens our federal system."

"That said – I think this rule is illegal for a number of very significant reasons, and we are going to fight hard to make sure that the courts say so," Skrmetti added.

Skrmetti said Biden’s move is part of "consistent with other overreach by the administration."

"This rule is illegitimately overreaching what the statute authorizes; It is in conflict with the laws of Tennessee, and it's just an unconstitutional overreach in several ways by the federal government," Skrmetti said. "If we win this first, we're, we're going to get an injunction that will say that these rules do not apply to the dependency of the case. And then, ultimately, if we win, the court will set aside the rule and say it is unconstitutional and is not valid – does not have any bearing on anybody. 

"And the rule will effectively cease to exist," he added.


The Department of Education sent Fox News Digital a statement saying the department went through a "rigorous process" on the new rules. 

"The Department crafted the final Title IX regulations following a rigorous process to give complete effect to the Title IX statutory guarantee that no person experiences sex discrimination in federally-funded education," the statement reads. "As a condition of receiving federal funds, all federally-funded schools are obligated to comply with these final regulations, and we look forward to working with school communities all across the country to ensure the Title IX guarantee of nondiscrimination in school is every student’s experience."

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