Exclusive: Tennessee AG Jonathan Skrmetti Says SCOTUS Decision to Take Up Case Challenging State Law Banning Transgender Treatment for Minors Will Be a ‘Major Step Toward Clarity’

Jonathan Skrmetti

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti joined Tuesday’s episode of The Michael Patrick Leahy Show for an exclusive interview where he discussed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments and rule on whether Tennessee’s law that bans “gender-affirming care” on minors violates the Constitution.

In March 2023, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed SB1/HB1 titled, ‘The Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation Act’ into law, forbidding healthcare providers from performing or administering to underage children medical procedures or treatments for the purposes of enabling the child to identify with the opposite gender.

A legal challenge to the law, L.W. v. Skrmetti, led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its legal partners within the Volunteer State soon followed.

In September 2023, a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s preliminary injunction in L.W. v. Skrmetti and allowed the law to remain in effect.

The Sixth Circuit Court’s ruling was appealed by the U.S. Department of Justice which argues that the state law is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will take up the Department of Justice’s request for a ruling in the case during its next term, which begins in October.

Skrmetti said the Supreme Court’s ruling, expected to be released in June 2025 after the case is argued later this year in front of the nation’s highest court, will be a “major step toward clarity” in regards to the scope of protections under the 14th Amendment.

“There’s a real need for clarity. This is a good opportunity for the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and say, ‘Here is what the Constitution requires.’ There’s been so much litigation in this area. There have been so many big changes happening in the law and in society, and what we really need here is clarity,” Skrmetti said.

“We have a great Sixth Circuit opinion from Chief Judge Sutton, very thorough, very well reasoned, talking about what the Constitution requires, what it does not, what the scope of the 14th Amendment protections are for equal protection. We’re going to hear from the U.S. Supreme Court now, and that is going to be the definitive statement on the 14th Amendment and gender identity issues…This is going to be a major step toward clarity,” Skrmetti added.

Skrmetti said Tennessee Solicitor General Matt Rice will be defending the Sixth Circuit’s opinion in L.W. v. Skrmetti in front of the Supreme Court.

Rice, appointed to Skrmetti’s team in March, previously clerked for Judge Sandra Ikuta on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.

“Our very capable Solicitor General will be making the argument, Matt Rice. He clerked for Justice Thomas. He is a native of Johnson City. He’s brilliant. He is going to do a terrific job, but he’s going to spend months doing nothing but preparing for this argument. I can’t do that. I have too many other irons in the fire. I have to run the office. So I can’t retreat into the cave as it were, but Matt’s going to do nothing but prepare. He’s going to acquit himself very well. I have no doubt he will make Tennessee proud,” Skrmetti said.

“We had a great win in the Sixth Circuit. We’ve got a very well reasoned opinion that we’ll be defending going up there and we’ve got some good arguments to bring. I think it’s really important that we begin to resolve some of the legal uncertainty here. We certainly are going to be working hard to defend this Tennessee law,” Skrmetti added.

Regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the Tennessee case challenging the state law, Skrmetti said he believes the “very thorough” Sixth Circuit opinion from Chief Judge Sutton played a role in the highest court’s decision in reviewing the case.

“I don’t know exactly what drove the decision here. I think it’s notable that the Court of Appeals opinion is extremely well reasoned. It’s very thorough, it’s very thoughtful. Chief Judge Sutton is one of the most respected jurists in the country. He very regularly sends his clerks up to clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court because they hold him in very high esteem. So that may have played a role here,” Skrmetti said.

Skrmetti noted that cases involving gender identity have been pursued “for a while” without guidance from the Supreme Court, which could be another reason why the highest court decided to review the issue.

“These are issues that have been percolating for a while. There is a lot of consternation about what exactly the law is in this area. I think my guess is the court decided it is time to bring at least some clarity to this to give guidance to the lower courts and to help legislatures make informed decisions about what they can and can’t do. Obviously, we want to win this case. We’re going to work really hard to win this case, but at the end of the day, the most important thing the law can be is clear. It’s going to inform a lot of strategy, both in terms of legislation and litigation going forward, no matter the outcome,” Skrmetti said.

Watch the exclusive interview:

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Kaitlin on X / Twitter.
Photo “Jonathan Skrmetti” by Tennessee Attorney General. 




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2 Thoughts to “Exclusive: Tennessee AG Jonathan Skrmetti Says SCOTUS Decision to Take Up Case Challenging State Law Banning Transgender Treatment for Minors Will Be a ‘Major Step Toward Clarity’”


    The court has no constitutional jurisdiction in this matter. Stop wasting money in court when all we have to do is refuse to comply. Simple. Done. Over.

  2. Black Powder

    Skrmetti should join Missouri AG Allan Bailey in suing New York State in the US Supreme Court for election interference. The US Supreme Court would have original jurisdiction in this case.