Attorney General Morrisey Takes Fight for Fairness in Women’s Sports to the U.S. Supreme Court

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is taking the fight for fairness in women’s sports all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Attorney General made the announcement during a livestreamed news conference Thursday—his office is filing an application at the Supreme Court to vacate the injunction pending appeal against the state’s Save Women’s Sports Act. An attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom also spoke during the conference.

“This simple law (Save Women’s Sports Act) demands that girls and women get their fair share of opportunities in sports,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The recent injunction decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is a minor setback, but we remain confident in the merits of our defense. We are resolute in protecting opportunities for women and girls in sports because when biological males win in a women’s event—as has happened time and again—female athletes lose their opportunity to shine.”

“That’s why we’re taking this case to the Supreme Court.”

In a recent 2-1 ruling, the appeals court reinstated a preliminary injunction the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia had initially issued against the Act in July 2021. In a later ruling this past January, the same district court dissolved that preliminary injunction, holding that the state legislature’s definition of “girl” and “woman” in the context of HB 3293 (Save Women’s Sports Act) is “constitutionally permissible”—and that the law complies with Title IX.

Attorney General Morrisey argued in his Supreme Court filing Thursday that the injunction “harms biologically female athletes, too, who will continue to be displaced as long as biological males join women’s sports teams. In that way, the majority’s cursory decision undermines equal protection—it doesn’t advance it.”

Under HB 3293, all biological males, including those who identify as transgender girls, are ineligible for participation on girls’ sports teams.

The challenge to that law came from a student at Bridgeport Middle School identified in court papers as “BPJ,” who is a biological male identifying as a female. Attorneys for BPJ argued that HB 3293 violates BPJ’s rights under Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Attorney General Morrisey, on behalf of the state, intervened and asserted the law protects female athletes’ safety and keeps female sports competitive for female athletes, consistent with Title IX and the Constitution. Title IX was signed into law on June 23, 1972. It prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government. 

Before Title IX, just one in 27 young women played sports. Today, that figure is two in five—the result of a law that demands that girls and women get their fair share of opportunities in sports.

“We will keep on fighting so female athletes can compete on a level playing field,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The Act protects fairness and safety for female athletes across West Virginia. We will vigorously defend the Act because we think we are clearly correct on the law.”

“Some will claim this is simply discrimination, but nothing could be further from the truth.”

In case you missed it, here’s a video of the news conference: