Soccer player intervening in federal transgender case is challenged after graduating

Attorney General Patrick Morrissey appeared today alongside a former college football player who was interfering in a federal court case challenging the application of state law affecting transgender athletes.

Soccer player intervening in federal transgender case is challenged after graduating
Patrick Morrissey

Morrissey said during public statements about the federal issue and the applications of Act Nine, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

Now in federal court, lawyers are currently arguing over whether Lainey Armistead’s position in the case is still valid after she graduated from West Virginia this spring.

“Miss. Armistead has now graduated from WVSU and is a rookie student at Florida Law School with no concrete plans to play on any school women’s soccer team, regardless of West Virginia,” wrote attorneys challenging her position on the case.

“Miss. Armistead’s graduation from WVSU sever her already tenuous relationship with this litigation.”

Lenny Armstead

Armistide was a junior college student from Owensboro, Kentucky, when her lawyers helped her file for intervention in September 2021. She received legal support from attorney Brandon Steele, who is also the chair of the House Government Organization Committee, along with attorneys from the National Alliance in Defense of Liberty.

West Virginia’s policy was challenged in court after the state joined dozens of states and imposed restrictions on the participation of transgender athletes on sports teams.

West Virginia law states that “any student harmed by a violation of this section may file a suit” against a district college or board of education “allegedly responsible for the alleged violation.”

A trial over the challenge to the West Virginia law is imminent, and is scheduled to begin July 26 in the Charleston courtroom of US District Judge Joseph Goodwin.

Armistead’s proposal to intervene in 2021 indicated that she sought to defend a West Virginia law defining males and females “based solely on reproductive biology and genes at birth”. This definition does not take into account gender identity.

Armistead’s lawyers wrote that year: “This court deserves to hear the parties who are protected by sports law, who are most affected by attempts to remove protective measures, and who are most motivated to defend vigorously the law.”

Becky Pepper Jackson

The gist of the lawsuit centers on Becky Pepper Jackson, a Harrison County middle school student, whose lawyers argued that the new law would have unfairly prevented her from participating in her school’s cross-country team.

The middle school student is supported by attorneys from ACLU-West Virginia and Lambda Legal. In recently filed court documents, these attorneys asserted that Armistide’s interests do not conflict with a middle school student’s eligibility.

Armistead’s attorneys and the state responded that her view was important to be represented in the case.

“From the beginning of her engagement, Lainey Armistead has made valuable and unique contributions to this case,” Curtis Kephart, attorney for the state attorney’s office, wrote in a June 9 filing in an effort to argue that her continued involvement should be made.

He described Armistead as a biological college football player who might have to compete against a male-born opponent.

He wrote, “Lainey Armistead is the only person in this case who represents a biomathematical viewpoint in agreement with the Legislature that the statue is useful.”

Armstead’s lawyers also confirmed that her perspective still applies, saying she still has three years of college eligibility.

“Miss. Armistead’s attorneys write that Armistead’s unexpected early graduation from WVSU does not change these facts.” Ms. Armistead intends to continue playing football in some capacity during law school, and she has nearly a lifetime of football playing experience – including three years as a collegiate athlete at WVSU – to draw on.”

Armistead appeared with the attorney general today for public statements about Title IX and the lawsuit relating to the participation of transgender athletes.

No young woman should be forced to compete with a man in her sport. Armistide said today. “A biological man should not be allowed to take opportunities away from women. Ignoring the biological differences between men and women is a huge loss for women, especially when we fought so hard for our right to compete in the first place.”

To the applause, she concluded, “I’m here with a simple message for the women and girls of West Virginia: I support you.”

Morrissey said his office is confident of his position as the date for the West Virginia law trial approaches.

“We have to aggressively advocate for the positive changes and opportunities that have been created over the past half century. This means keeping sport fair and safe for athletes of both sexes. It means keeping the genders separate,” Morrissey said, referring to the high-profile case of Leah Thomas, which I competed on the Pennsylvania men’s team from 2017 to 2020 and then the women’s team last year

He suggested that whatever the outcome at the level of the Federal Circuit, he expects subsequent consideration by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and possibly by the US Supreme Court.

“This is something we are preparing for, and we are setting a record that is second to none,” Morrissey said.

Leave a Comment