October Co-Chair Letter
To our NTBA community,
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has released its L.W. v. Skrmetti merits decision on the preliminary injunctions against bans on gender-affirming care in Tennessee and Kentucky. Those discriminatory bans now go back into effect. You can read the Skrmetti decision here. As always, we encourage everyone to practice self-care as processing what we view as the judicial branch endorsing an outward attack on trans rights.
Chief Judge Sutton, the same judge who issued the decision that was later overruled by the Supreme Court in Obergefell, authored this opinion. The dissent, by Judge White, is well-reasoned and factually supported. The dissent’s conclusion that such bans are unconstitutional is consistent with the conclusion reached by every single trial court to do the judicial labor of examining the evidentiary record and applying the law to supported facts. The dissent is thus worth reading as a voice of legal reason in an era plagued with concerns about ends-driven ideological backfill.
Our community is fighting back. Former NTBA Board member and a current member on our Advisory Council, Lucas Cameron-Vaughn of ACLU-TN, has been on the front line in the Skrmetti fight, protecting the rights of trans kids in Tennessee, from day one. As this has heated up, Lucas stepped back from NTBA Board activity to dedicate his time to fighting this fight. We are sending him support. His request from our community is that (those who can) should send support to those organizations that are helping people in Tennessee and Kentucky on the ground—OUTMemphis and The Campaign for Southern Equality, respectively.
We are supporting those on the front line everywhere as this fight continues.
And we continue to be present in representing ourselves – trans and non-binary people more generally – to lawyers and judges at every level and aspect of the legal profession. Foremost on our minds in this regard is this year’s SCOTUS swearing-in ceremony, where, again, a group of 12 NTBA members will be sworn into the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. We will stand and be counted not only as fellow citizens but as members of the same legal profession tasked with addressing the trans rights debates du jour. Our visibility makes a difference.
Further, our NTBA Board members will continue to speak all over the country about the issues affecting our community. We are presently advising on easy access materials to help the judiciary navigate making court rooms more inclusive for us and the broader community. We will be speaking at or hosting events in New Orleans, Washington D.C., as well as online. Details are in the events listed below.
We are not going away. We will keep fighting until the tide swings back towards justice and progress.
We are a community. We are a community with support.
Rafael M Langer-Osuna and D Dangaran