Attorney General Jim Hood - the lone Democrat statewide official - issued a statement on Thursday stating his opposition to having the State of Mississippi join a lawsuit with 11 states challenging the recent Obama administration’s school bathroom directive.
It reads more like a 2019 campaign release.
Hood’s statement, shown below, was distributed by the Mississippi Democratic Trust.
Hood uses as a reason for not supporting the lawsuit a case before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to “stop the Department of Justice from interfering with the way in which local schools operate their restrooms” which his office did join.
The problem with this statement is in the details.
The case Hood is referencing is G.G. vs Gloucester County School Board
in which it was argued whether a school in Virginia discriminated against a transgender boy - a girl who identifies as a boy – when it prohibited her from using the boys’ restroom. It was argued that such a stance violated Title IX “on the basis of sex.”
The three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the school and in favor of the girl in April.
Thus, pending an appeal from the school system, that case is closed, meaning Mississippi Attorney General Hood’s excuse for not representing his state in the new lawsuit isn’t valid.
In fact, the Fourth Circuit didn’t address the current issue at hand at all, that being the directive handed down by the Obama administration regarding school bathroom and locker room use.
Ed Whelan with the National Review
recently wrote, ”… the Fourth Circuit majority in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board utterly neglected to address the fundamental question whether Title IX requires that schools allow boys who identify as female to use the girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, and showers facilities and allow girls who identify as male to use the boys’ facilities.”
Another problem with Hood’s statement is what powers the Governor has in such matters.
Hood states, “The governor has opted to join Texas in its broad lawsuit against the federal government in his capacity as governor alone. Only the attorney general can represent our state in such lawsuits…”
But let’s take a look at the law. Mississippi Code § 7-1-33 (2015) states:
“The governor may order and direct suits to be brought for and in the name of the state in any other state or foreign jurisdiction for the recovery of any moneys due or owing to the state, or upon any claim or demand on which the state is entitled to sue. For the prosecution of such suits he may employ counsel and, for such sum as is necessary to pay the costs or expenses thereof, order the auditor to draw a warrant on the treasury, payable out of any sum appropriated for the purpose.”
And since the Obama administration’s threat over this directive was to deny federal funds from those states and school districts which did not comply, it would seem that Gov. Phil Bryant is within his right to sue on behalf of the state.
Hood’s posturing for a 2019 gubernatorial run is quite evident when you read the full statement and consider the politics at play. His hesitancy at taking on the Obama administration adds fuel to the fire.
It would seem that Hood’s statement on this matter is more politically based than it is focused on acting on behalf and addressing the concerns of a majority of Mississippians which should not surprise anyone given his past.