When Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced his state will not join 11 others in the federal lawsuit against the Obama administration over its directive on transgender bathrooms, that left Gov. Phil Bryant in a bit of a conundrum. And he isn’t alone.
“The governor has opted to join Texas in its broad lawsuit against the federal government in his capacity as governor alone,” said Hood in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Only the attorney general can represent our state in such lawsuits, which includes all branches of government and, more important, all of the people of our state. I cannot lend the name of the state of Mississippi to this lawsuit.”
The memory of his loss in 2015, said Hood, hadn’t faded and he said he was opting out to avoid a repeat of that experience, among other issues.
“Last year, the Office of Attorney General joined a lawsuit in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the Department of Justice from interfering with the way in which local schools operate their restrooms. For that reason, I chose not to join the Texas lawsuit,” Hood continued. “I also have concerns on issues of standing in the Texas suit because no federal funding has been withheld from any school. Moreover, I have a different legal opinion as to how the United States Supreme Court will finally decide the issue.”
Gov. Bryant announced that despite Hood’s objections, he plans to personally join the lawsuit over the Obama administration directive, which instructed U.S. public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room facilities that match their gender identity.
According to the Jackson Free Press, the governor isn’t saying who will represent him. The Republican governors of Kentucky and Maine find themselves in the same position, as their democratic state attorneys general have balked at joining the federal suit. Maine Gov. Paul LePage is named in the lawsuit separately instead of the state of Maine.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said that State Attorney General Andy Beshear “unfortunately … is unwilling to protect Kentucky’s control over local issues. Therefore, my administration will do so by joining this lawsuit.”
All this stems from a letter sent by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education to public schools nationwide earlier this month, instructing them to allow transgender students to use bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities that match their gender identities and to allow their participation in gender-specific sports.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Texas claims that “the new rules, regulations, guidance and interpretations described herein go so far beyond any reasonable reading of the relevant Congressional text such that the new rules, regulations, guidance and interpretations functionally exercise lawmaking power reserved only to Congress.”