South Dakota governor signs bill into law banning medical care for trans minors
Several additional anti-LGBTQ bills are moving forward across the country. Also: Law Dork elsewhere, writing about SCOTUS at MSNBC and talking about the death penalty on CBS.
Since last Monday’s legislative update, at least eight more anti-LGBTQ bills across the nation have passed at least one chamber of a state legislature, per the ACLU legislative tracker, with one anti-transgender bill that has passed both chambers and is expected to be signed into law soon.
South Dakota’s H.B. 1080 would ban gender-affirming medical care for minors. It has now passed both chambers of the legislature, getting only four no votes in the Senate — all of the Democrats in the chamber — on Feb. 9.
[Update at 10:40 p.m. ET: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed the bill into law on Monday.
According to the Argus Leader, “Noem signed this bill with little media notice and without any press conference or media event as she held when she signed House Bill 1217, which limited transgender students’ participation in sports, into law last year.”]
The bill includes a particularly cruel provision that is completely devoid of medical rationale for any minors receiving gender-affirming medical care currently — forcing medical providers to “systematically reduce” the use of either puberty blockers or hormones over the course of this calendar year, ending such treatment altogether by the end of the year.
A lawsuit will almost certainly follow.
Other bills seeking to ban gender-affirming medical care for minors passed the Montana Senate on Feb. 8 (S.B. 99) and the Wyoming Senate the same day (S.F. 0144). (A bill that would redefine “child abuse” to include gender-affirming medical care passed the Wyoming Senate the week prior, on Feb. 2 (S.F. 0111).)
Erin Reed covered the debate over the Montana bill in her newsletter last week.
Virginia’s House also passed a bill, H.B. 2432, that — per the text — would appear to force schools to out students to at least one parent if the student even “expresses to any individual who is employed in such school that such minor is experiencing gender incongruence.”
This is even more oppressive on students than Utah’s S.B. 100, which was covered in Law Dork’s legislative update last week and has passed both chambers there. That bill has been sent to Republican Gov. Spencer Cox, but he is yet to act on it.
Tennessee’s Senate passed a bill (S.B. 3) that would make certain performances by “male or female impersonators” a crime. Under the broad text of the amended bill, it would be a crime to perform “adult cabaret entertainment” — defined as “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors” and feature, among other performers, “male or female impersonators” — on public property or “[i]n a location where the adult cabaret entertainment could be viewed by a person who is not an adult.”
The bill, in some ways, appears to include many of the worst aspects of the earlier version of Arkansas’s S.B. 43. The amended version of the Arkansas bill, meanwhile, passed the House on Feb. 6 and is now back in the Senate there.
Finally, the Idaho Senate on Feb. 8 passed S.B. 1016, which would allow contractors to ban trans people from using multiple-occupancy restrooms, showers, and changing rooms in accordance with their gender identity.
There was no major change, aside from committee assignment, for the remaining seven bills discussed in last week’s legislative update.
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SCOTUS THOUGHTS: The Supreme Court isn’t back in session again until next week, but I spent time over this past week to write down some of what I’ve been thinking about when it comes to all of the issues we’ve been seeing at the court.
Here’s part of what I wrote at MSNBC, in a column published on Saturday:
The Supreme Court, as an institution, thinks it is different. It presents itself as a body above it all — a neutral arbiter that should be seen and treated differently by the public than other government bodies. But as the past few years have made clear, that’s not true.
It is not an infallible institution whose decisions should be accepted without question. It is not a debating club that is just trying its best to figure out what the law is. And, most importantly, it is not a body that should be placed beyond public scrutiny.
The justices are ordinary people, running an imperfect governmental body, with an assigned role in our democracy. Treating them as such — and not something more — is essential to maintaining our democracy.
The justices and court officials should be transparent about their actions whenever possible. Reporters should cover them like any other part of government — skeptically and with a focus on what’s happening in the background and the reasons for decisions, not just by providing information about the words that the justices hand down to establish the national legal rules on any number of issues. Finally, and in part through increased transparency and more aggressive reporting, the public should be able to understand what’s happening at the court without having to dedicate their lives to figuring out obscure and often unwritten rules. (Yes, shadow docket, I’m looking at you.)
Go over to MSNBC to read the whole column.
We’re more than a few months away from the big decisions, which we don’t expect to get until June, but that’s all the more reason to start looking now at how we think about, talk about, write about and cover, and react to the Supreme Court in this era.
FEDERAL DEATH PENALTY: Finally, on Sunday, I appeared on CBS Evening News to talk about the federal death penalty and the Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland seeking its first new death sentence of the Biden administration.
I’ve written previously about Sayfullo Saipov’s case at Law Dork, including most recently on Feb. 3 when I discussed the upcoming sentencing.
With the penalty phase of Saipov’s trial beginning Monday, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York will begin their final effort to convince the jury that Saipov should get the death penalty for the for the October 2017 terror attack along a bike path in Manhattan that killed 8 and injured many more.
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