Federal Judge Blocks Arizona Save Women’s Sports Act

July 23, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

A federal judge has issued a ruling in a case involving Arizona’s recently passed Save Women’s Sports Act.

On Thursday, Judge Jennifer Zipps, in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, granted a preliminary injunction against SB 1165, which was signed by former Governor Doug Ducey on March 30, 2022. The law would prohibit biological males from competing in women’s and girls’ athletic events at state public schools, colleges, and universities. Judge Zipps’ order blocks the law from going into effect.

Arizona’s Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne, released a statement after the judge’s order, vowing to continue his fight to uphold the law. Horne said, “We will appeal this ruling. This will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court, and they will rule in our favor. The Plaintiffs in this case claimed that this only involves pre-pubescent boys, but we presented peer-reviewed studies that show pre-pubescent boys have an advantage over girls in sports. The only expert presented by the Plaintiffs was a medical doctor who makes his money doing sex transition treatments on children and who has exactly zero peer-reviewed studies to support his opinion.”

One of the representatives of the plaintiffs, Justin R. Rassi from Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, lauded the judge’s ruling, writing, “The Court’s well-reasoned decision exposes the lack of any legitimate justification for this discriminatory law, which inflicts severe and irreparable harm on transgender girls like Megan and Jane. We are very happy that, as a result of this ruling, Jane and Megan will be immediately able to resume playing sports with their friends.”

Judge Zipps found that “the Arizona legislature intentionally created a classification, specifically ‘biological girls,’ that necessarily excludes transgender girls, and expressly allowed only that exclusive classification to play girls sports to the exclusion of transgender girls.” The judge wrote, “Enforcement of the Act in violation of the Equal Protection Clause in and of itself is sufficient to presume irreparable harm to justify a preliminary injunction.”

While Superintendent Horne has taken the primary lead in defending this law, he hasn’t been the only public official to take action in this case. Earlier this year, both Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma filed a Motion to Intervene in the matter. The Senate Republican’s press release highlighted that “on April 17, 2023, plaintiffs represented by a radical organization filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the law from being enforced in Arizona,” and “Attorney General Kris Mayes is not defending the constitutionality of the law.”

At the time of their filing, Petersen said, “In the absence of the Attorney General defending Arizona’s law, we’re looking forward to fighting for the rights of female athletes across Arizona, as well as for the Court making it clear Arizona’s law protecting women and girls should be enforced.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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