Tennessee’s LGBT Restroom Posting Law – Injunction Issued

(July 12, 2021)

On Friday July 9, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger for the Middle District of Tennessee issued a preliminary injunction effectively blocking the enforcement of Tennessee’s recent law regarding trans-friendly restrooms. (H.B.1182/S.B.1224). The law went into effect on July 1, requiring those businesses that allow a member of either biological sex to use any public restroom (regardless of the gender designation on the restroom) to post a notice of that policy at the building entrance, using the specific verbiage and format mandated in the law. The Court’s July 9 Order enjoins enforcement of the law on a temporary basis and until further Order of the Court.

The plaintiffs are two businesses represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. In the lawsuit, they primarily claim the law violates First Amendment rights “against compelled speech.” Defendants argued the new legislation was not directed at transgenders’ rights, but was designed to give advance warning to customers using the restrooms and to reduce the possibility of sexual predators who might “take advantage of” public restroom policies. The Court dismissed these arguments, and found “the law at issue in this case is a brazen violation” of the First Amendment which protects against compelled speech, noting that “particularly repugnant to the First Amendment is when the government forces a private party to voice the government’s compelled message.”

While the preliminary injunction is only temporary, the Court’s 31-page opinion certainly indicates the defendants will have an uphill battle on this one.

Stay tuned for further developments …