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Ohio Attorney General Asks Court to Restrict Judge’s Pause on Anti-Trans Law

However, AG David Yost had no issues with the "court's authority" when it issued an injunction against gun ordinances.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost introduces the keynote speaker at the Columbiana County Lincoln Day Dinner in Salem, Ohio on Friday, March 15, 2024.

On Monday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) urged the Ohio Supreme Court to review a lower court judge’s temporary restraining order against the state’s gender-affirming care ban for transgender youth, arguing that the decision to block the ban was overly broad.

In March, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state over the gender-affirming care ban, House Bill 68, on behalf of two 12-year-old transgender girls in Ohio, asserting that HB 86 violated sections of the Ohio Constitution.

“The ban on gender-affirming care will cause severe harm to transgender youth. These personal, private medical decisions should remain between families and doctors; they don’t belong to politicians,” Freda Levenson, legal director at the ACLU of Ohio, said in a statement as the lawsuit was filed in March. “H.B. 68 violates the Ohio Constitution in multiple ways. We will fight in court to ensure that trans youth and their parents can access critically important, lifesaving healthcare without government intrusion.”

Last week, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Michael Holbrook issued a temporary injunction halting enforcement of HB 68, slated to take effect this Wednesday. This action prevents the state from implementing the law for 14 days or until another hearing in his court, whichever occurs first.

“Beyond the legal framework addressing the threat to plaintiffs’ constitutional rights … there is little doubt as to the irreparable nature of the actual physical injury to plaintiffs upon enforcement of the Act,” Holbrook said in his ruling. “This Court, again, finds plaintiffs’ arguments more compelling.”

In his court filing to the state Supreme Court, Yost asserted that Holbrook was “continuing to exceed his jurisdiction.”

“He knows he can’t argue with the court’s reasoning, so instead he is arguing on procedural grounds,” Cam Ogden, a transgender rights advocate in Ohio, told Truthout.

Ogden also highlighted that “Yost was celebrating this exact situation very recently,” in a news release commemorating a court stay that is preventing the City of Columbus from enforcing ordinances outlawing certain firearms and implementing gun-storage restrictions. In the statement, Yost said that the judge’s 2023 ruling was a “welcome decision for all who want to prevent government overreach and protect their constitutional rights.”

Last July, Yost made changes to his state political organization, indicating on a form submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office that he is now pursuing a candidacy for “governor.” The next election for governor in the state will be in 2026.

“Attorney General Yost is clearly politically motivated by his bid for Governor in 2026,” LGBTQ legislative researcher Allison Chapman told Truthout.

Chapman believes that Yost might be positioning himself in opposition to current Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R), who vetoed HB 68 in December 2023. The Ohio House of Representatives returned early from their vacation to override DeWine’s veto and, in January, the bill became law.

“One judge from one county does not have more power than the governor’s veto pen,” Yost said in a statement regarding his filing in this case to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Ohio is one of 24 states that have restricted or prohibited transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming care. While these laws have a detrimental effect on transgender youth, a recent Data for Progress poll also found that 24 percent of transgender adults have experienced disruptions or discontinuations in their healthcare due to anti-transgender legislation.

“Even Governor DeWine understands that HB 68 will have dire effects on all trans kids in the state and vetoed the bill,” Chapman said. “Trans kids have a right to bodily autonomy that must be protected.”