Texas will sue to stop a federal directive instructing school districts to let transgender students use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday.
Abbott, a Republican, made the announcement in a tweet.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is expected to discuss the lawsuit in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
The McKinney Republican has already sought legal clarification on issue. Earlier this month he joined with lawyers from Oklahoma and West Virginia to write a letter to the U.S. Justice and Education departments asking whether states would lose federal funding if their school districts did not comply.
The directive stated transgender students have the right to use their preferred bathrooms in public schools because of Title IX, a federal statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender at education institutions that receive federal funding.
At a Round Rock stop on his book tour Wednesday morning shortly after he tweeted the news, Abbott said Paxton’s lawsuit is “challenging the way that the Obama administration is trampling the United States Constitution.”
“The president has no authority to enact laws whatsoever. Several times Congress has taken up the issue of whether to expand the Civil Rights Act and Title IX and whether or not to include transgender. Both times or multiple times, Congress has decided against that,” Abbott said.
When asked whether he had any input on the attorney general’s decision to challenge the directive, Abbott said the lawsuit was Paxton’s “determination.”
Abbott also defended the cost of suing the federal government over the issue.
“There is no price that can be put on a president violating the Constitution,” he said. “This country abandons its fundamental principle when we have a president who says he is above the law. Barack Obama has repeatedly said he is above the law. Texas is going to put a stop to that.”
The battle over the issue burst into national view in March after the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2, which prohibited transgender people from using bathrooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate. The controversial law, which has prompted some businesses to reconsider their investments in the state, is now the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit.
In Texas, the Obama administration directive has generated widespread outrage among Republicans, fueling full-throated attacks from many party leaders including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Patrick — who generated headlines earlier this month when he called for the resignation of a Ft. Worth superintendent over his district’s policies for transgender students — has urged Texas superintendents to resist pressure from the federal government to follow the Obama administration guidelines.
Patrick Svitek contributed reporting to this story.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at: http://www.texastribune.org/2016/05/25/texas-will-sue-stop-obama-transgender-directive/.