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Pennsylvania transgender bathroom case splits US appeals court

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Four judges on the federal appeals court in Philadelphia on Thursday urged that body to revisit a key part of its decision to let transgender students in a Pennsylvania school district use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities.

The judges, all appointed by Republican presidents, said a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals “went beyond what was necessary” in suggesting that the Boyertown Area School District policy might be required under Title IX, a U.S. law barring gender discrimination by schools that receive federal funds.

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They said the entire appeals court should rehear the case, and set out an “appropriately limited rationale for our result.”

The panel decision had been among a series of recent legal victories for transgender students, even after President Donald Trump in February 2017 rescinded guidance that schools give them unfettered access to bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice.

Boyertown’s policy had been challenged by some non-transgender high school students, who said sharing facilities with transgender students would violate their privacy.

On May 24, the panel refused to order a preliminary injunction against the policy, saying the non-transgender students were unlikely to prevail at trial.

The non-transgender students then asked the three-judge panel or full court to reconsider the case, prompting the panel on Thursday to revise its decision.

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In that revision, Circuit Judge Theodore McKee maintained that “requiring transgender students to use single user or birth-sex-aligned facilities is its own form of discrimination.”

He also said Boyertown “can hardly be faulted” for adopting a policy that “avoids the issues that may otherwise have occurred under Title IX.”

The four dissenting judges objected to that language, despite agreeing that the underlying facts “can support the legal conclusion” that a preliminary injunction was unnecessary.

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“Reasonable people can and will disagree about the most appropriate way to address transgender students’ desire to select which bathroom or locker room facilities to use,” Circuit Judge Kent Jordan wrote. “The law does not mandate only one outcome, as the panel opinion suggests.”

Randall Wenger, a lawyer who argued the non-transgender students’ appeal, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Michael Levin, who represented the school district, did not immediately respond to similar requests.

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The non-transgender students have until Aug. 9 to seek a rehearing before the full court.

The case is Doe et al v Boyertown Area School District et al, 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 17-3113.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown

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2020 Election

Masks take center stage in presidential race as Biden slams Trump for ‘costing people’s lives’

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In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash on Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden laid into President Donald Trump for his comments belittling his decision to wear a mask at the Memorial Day events at the beginning of the week.

"He's a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way," said Biden. He added that "This macho stuff ... It's costing people's lives."

Trump has frequently refused to don a mask while speaking to the media, even when he is in public places where masks are required.

Watch below:

“He’s a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way,” Biden to @DanaBashCNN about Trump belittling his wearing of a mask. “This macho stuff ... It’s costing people’s lives.”

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Trump says he can ‘absolutely’ force governors to reopen churches if he decides to do so

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At Tuesday's coronavirus press briefing, President Donald Trump was pressed on whether he really has the authority to force governors to allow houses of worship to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. "Can you explain what authority you had in mind when you said that you would do that?" asked a reporter.

The president emphasized that he does have the power — but did not elaborate on how specifically he would do so, and added that he doesn't think he will have to.

"I can absolutely do it if I want to," said Trump. "I don't think I'm going to have to, because it's starting to open up. We need our churches and our synagogues and our mosques. We want them open, churches, synagogues, mosques, and other — we want them open and we want them open as soon as possible."

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Trump continues pushing conspiracy theories about Joe Scarborough — immediately after reporter tells him about widower begging him to stop

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At Tuesday's White House press briefing, President Donald Trump was asked by reporters if he was aware of the letter from the widower of deceased congressional aide Lori Klausutis, begging the president to stop promoting conspiracy theories that she had been murdered by former representative and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

The president replied, "Yeah I have." However, almost immediately after, he used the moment to continue pushing the conspiracy theory, adding, "As you know, there's no statute of limitations."

Asked if he's seen the distressed letter from the widower of Lori Klausutis about Trump turning her death into fodder, Trump says "yeah I have," then continues propagating his conspiracy nonsense, then says, "As you know, there's no statute of limitations."

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