US District Court Judge Frederic Block, a federal judge, blocked the Trump administration from enforcing a regulation that would effectively roll back healthcare protections, like the prohibition of discrimination, for transgender people on Monday.
Block’s ruling blocks the rollbacks of an Obama-era regulation. The plan was announced in June, but Block found that the new ordinances violate the Supreme Court’s recent historic decision to extend federal civil rights laws to LGBTQ+ individuals.
The Monday block was a preliminary injunction that prohibits the administration from enforcing the original ruling until the case can be brought back to and decided in court.
“When the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision’s impact,” writes Block in the preliminary injunction. “Since HHS has been unwilling to take that path voluntarily, the court now imposes it.”
“[The] Court concludes that the proposed rules are, indeed, contrary to Bostock and, in addition, that HHS did act arbitrarily and capriciously in enacting them,” he added. “Therefore, it grants plaintiffs’ application for a stay and preliminary injunction to preclude the rules from becoming operative.”
The ruling originally came from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and was widely seen as a sign to the Trump administration that the department stood behind his policies after the Supreme Court’s decision. The plan was to get rid of some provisions of a 2016 ruling that interpreted the Affordable Care Act’s ban on sex discrimination to include gender identity. The HHS hoped to enforce the ban “according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”
Block’s injunction was based heavily on the June Supreme Court ruling (Bostock v. Clayton County) that extended protections for LGBTQ+ workers; however, many also saw it as opening doors for other possible discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Had the agency correctly predicted the outcome in Bostock, it may well have taken a different path,” Block wrote in the injunction. “Instead, it continued on the same path even after Bostock was decided. This satisfies the Court that the premise of the repeal was a disagreement with a concept of sex discrimination later embraced by the Supreme Court. Therefore, the repeal was contrary to law.”