A federal judge has temporarily barred the Trump administration from erasing an Affordable Care Act provision that protects transgender patients from discrimination in health care settings.
Judge Frederic Block found that the administration’s new rule was at odds with a recent Supreme Court case establishing that employers cannot discriminate against transgender people in the workplace, and additionally called out the Department of Health and Human Services for finalizing the regulations in June:
“When the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision’s impact,” Block wrote, according to the Washington Post. “Since HHS has been unwilling to take that path voluntarily, the Court now imposes it.”
In the court’s opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch said that the decision to expand Title VII civil rights protections to include gender identity and sexual orientation wasn’t especially sweeping, saying that “we do not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind.” That may be true, but earlier this month, a panel relied heavily on the Supreme Court’s decision when it affirmed a lower court ruling that mandated that a Florida school district allow a transgender student to use the bathroom that matches his gender identity.
Block will still read briefs and hear arguments from both sides before issuing a final opinion. Nevertheless, Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said that the decision affirms that sex-based discrimination includes transgender people.
“I hope that this sends a message to the Trump administration and to federal agencies that they should protect people from discrimination and not expose them to bias and discrimination,” he said.