Reason Roundup

Justice Department Challenges Tennessee Ban on Drugs, Surgery for Transgender Youth

Plus: Court sides with journalists sued by LAPD, don't ban private employers from requiring college degrees, and more...


Justice Department says Tennessee's ban on transition treatments for transgender kids violates Equal Protection Clause. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is suing Tennessee over the state's recently passed ban on certain sorts of medical care for transgender minors.

The broad Tennessee law, Senate Bill 1, makes it illegal for health care providers to perform or administer any treatment to someone under age 18 if the treatment is for the purpose of "enabling a minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the immutable characteristics of the reproductive system that define the minor as male or female, as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth (the minor's 'sex')" or "treating purported discomfort or distress from a discordance between the minor's sex and asserted identity." That means things like puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors are illegal, in addition to surgical procedures. It's set to take effect on July 1, 2023.

The DOJ called it a law "that denies necessary medical care to children based solely on who they are." It alleges that the law violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

"SB 1's blanket ban prohibits potential treatment options that have been recommended by major medical associations for consideration in limited circumstances in accordance with established and comprehensive guidelines and standards of care," stated the DOJ in a press release. "By denying only transgender youth access to these forms of medically necessary care while allowing non-transgender minors access to the same or similar procedures, SB 1 discriminates against transgender youth."

The Justice Department has asked the court to prevent S.B. 1 from taking effect.

The move marks the latest attempt by the Biden administration to thwart state laws banning gender transition drugs and procedures for minors. Last year, the DOJ intervened in a legal challenge to an Alabama law (Senate Bill 184) to this effect. "As a result of that litigation, the most significant provisions of Alabama's Senate Bill 184 have been preliminarily halted from going into effect, and the United States continues to challenge its constitutionality," the DOJ pointed out.

In the latest challenge, the DOJ is intervening in a lawsuit filed by three Tennessee families with teen or preteen children and a Memphis-based doctor, Susan Lacy. They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.


Court sides with journalists sued by Los Angeles over police photos. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) released the names and pictures of officers—including some who work undercover assignments—to Knock LA journalist Ben Camacho, who gave them to the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition to publish online. The city then claimed this release was "inadvertent" and sued. A judge this week rejected the city's request for a temporary restraining order. More from the Los Angeles Times:

On Tuesday, the attorneys asked the judge to approve the restraining order to stop Camacho and the coalition from "transferring, concealing, removing or otherwise disposing of" the photos and other information. Lawyers for Camacho have filed to have the case dismissed as unconstitutional and retaliatory.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff declined to issue the restraining order and labeled the city's legal brief confusing.

Beckloff said the city was trying to prevent the dissemination or publication of the information, but he told the city's lawyers: "You really don't address the prior restraint issue. You buried the lead." He said the city needed to address the pivotal U.S. Supreme Court case on prior restraint — Nebraska Press Assn. vs. Stuart — and whether the injunction would be effective.

City lawyers insisted they aren't seeking to prevent publication but want to prevent Camacho and the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition from allowing other people to download the photos.


Department of everything good must be mandatory (sigh). Prominent conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation is calling for a ban on employers restricting some jobs to applicants with college degrees.

Once again, we see folks taking an idea that would be nice for businesses to voluntarily agree to and calling for the government to force businesses to accept it. Typically, this sort of micromanaging of private hiring practices has been a favored tactic of progressives. But the idea of using government to control business these days is loved by "conservative populists" as much as it is by their leftist counterparts.

The real kicker here: The Heritage Foundation lists a college degree among the required components for some job applicants.


• "The ongoing vendetta between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney escalated yet again [yesterday] when Disney filed a federal lawsuit accusing DeSantis of unconstitutional retaliation against the entertainment behemoth for protected speech," reports C.J. Ciaramella.

• "Do half of AI researchers believe that there's a 10% chance AI will kill us all?" It's a claim that's been circulating in prominent media outlets. But the Santa Fe Institute's Melanie Mitchell takes a skeptical look.

• The number of mass shootings in 2022 decreased from the previous year. According to FBI data, there were 50 mass shootings—defined as "one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area"—last year in the U.S. and 61 in 2021.

• How advocates pressured an Ohio town to reverse a ban on "aiding and abetting" abortions.

Reason's Robby Soave argues against government-mandated age limits for social media.

• "Libertarianism once was, and could be again, a radical, progressive ideology devoted to the cosmopolitan ideal of maximum equal freedom for each and every human being," suggests Matt Zwolinski, who has revived the Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog as a one-man Substack newsletter. "My writings here will explore what this kind of libertarianism might look like."

• "Harsher penalties won't save us from fentanyl," opines the Los Angeles Times editorial board. "In a very real sense, the co-manufacturer [of fentanyl] is U.S. criminal justice policy," it writes. "The war on drugs made fentanyl — much as it turned morphine into heroin and cocaine into crack."

Reason's Emma Camp is in The New York Times with an op-ed on her growing ambivalence toward her autism diagnosis.

• How a "safeword" can protect you from AI-enabled scams.

• "Arcturus" is the newest COVID-19 subvariant to start spreading widely. "We haven't seen an increase in hospitalizations, we haven't seen an increase in any of the indicators that make us worry," Ali Mokdad, a global health professor at the University of Washington, told NBC News.