Metro Weekly

Lawsuit Against New York AG Letitia James Dismissed

A federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by a Nassau County executive seeking to prevent NY Attorney General Letitia James from suing him.

Letitia James and Bruce Blakeman

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit from Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman seeking to block New York Attorney General Letitia James from taking legal action against the county and Blakeman for an executive order he issued barring transgender women from playing sports at county-owned facilities.

U.S. District Court Judge Nusrat Choudhury, of the Eastern District of New York, tossed out Blakeman’s lawsuit, which preemptively sought to prevent James from suing him or Nassau County over the transgender exclusion policy.

Under the ban, issued by Blakeman in February, county officials will deny permits for all athletic facilities  — including pools, fields, courts, or auditoriums — to any female-designated sports teams that cannot provide evidence, including original birth certificates, proving that every single one of their members was assigned female at birth.

James’s office has yet to take any direct action against Blakeman or the county, although the Attorney General sent Blakeman a cease-and-desist letter telling him to rescind the order, on the basis that it violates New York State’s civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

James called the order “transphobic and blatantly illegal, and threatened future legal action if it was not rescinded.

Blakeman had hoped to eventually argue, in court, that his executive order was legal, and enforces Title IX, the federal law protecting individuals from sex-based discrimination in educational settings, including organized sports.

The injunction he requested would have protected him from any legal action brought by James while he was awaiting his day in court.

James’s office argued that Blakeman did not have standing to bring his lawsuit against James, meaning the lawsuit should be dismissed in its entirety.

Earlier this month, Choudhury ruled that the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution generally prevents a local government from suing a state government in federal court. She also found that Nassau County had no legal standing to sue James, nor did an unnamed 16-year-old cisgender female athlete who joined Blakeman’s lawsuit as a plaintiff. But she did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit at that time.

She subsequently found that legal precedent required her to dismiss Blakeman’s lawsuit entirely, albeit with prejudice — meaning that the lawsuit could potentially be revived or refiled at a future date.

Although Blakeman’s lawsuit has been dismissed, the ban remains in effect for now.

“This decision is a tremendous victory for justice and the rule of law, but our work here is not done,” Alexis Richards, a spokesperson for James, said in a statement implying that future legal action against Nassau County was pending.

“It’s past time for Nassau County to rescind this [executive] order and treat all our communities with the basic respect and dignity they deserve,” Richards said.

Blakeman blasted Choudhury’s decision and waged a personal attack against her background and previous legal work prior to becoming a judge.

“I am shocked that a federal judge with a background as a Civil Liberties Union lawyer would not give girls and women their day in court,” he said in a statement. “We vehemently disagree with the decision and will appeal.”

In addition to any action James may take against him, Blakeman faces a separate lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a Long Island roller derby team.

The team, which has both cisgender and transgender members, claims that, under the ban, they will lose their practice space and will likely be forced to move their matches elsewhere.

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