May 18, 2022 - Politics

Judge strikes bathroom law

Illustration of a series of gavels, some of them transparent.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A federal judge struck down a Tennessee law Tuesday that would have required businesses to post a public notice for allowing transgender people to use restrooms aligned with their gender identity.

Why it matters: Tennessee has emerged as a leader in anti-trans legislation. LGBT+ advocates say the legislation, which passed into law last year, is offensive and transphobic.

Driving the news: Nashville restaurateur Bob Bernstein, who owns Fido and Bongo Java, is a plaintiff in the suit filed by the ACLU, which argued the law violated the First Amendment. Bernstein's businesses allow individuals to decide which bathroom is most appropriate for them.

  • U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger blocked the law from taking effect while the lawsuit continued.

Between the lines: Under the law, businesses like Bernstein's would be required to post a sign saying they had "a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom."

The latest: Trauger struck the law down in a blistering 40-page ruling criticizing the state's position that the required signage was "a simple truthful statement of fact."

  • Trauger described the law as "a brazen attempt to single out trans-inclusive establishments and force them to parrot a message that they reasonably believe would sow fear and misunderstanding."

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