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Members of the Long Island Roller Rebels, practice, Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2023, at United Skates of America in Seaford, N.Y. (Jeenah Moon/AP)
Members of the Long Island Roller Rebels, practice, Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2023, at United Skates of America in Seaford, N.Y. (Jeenah Moon/AP)
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A state judge on Friday evening Nassau County’s controversial sports ban on transgender women and girls, finding that the county’s Republican executive had acted beyond his authority in enacting the ban.

The decision, issued in Nassau Supreme Court by Justice , delivers a significant victory to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which had sued the GOP-led Long Island county over the

In February, County Executive issued the , forbidding transgender women and girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity at about 100 county-run facilities.

Issuing his order, Blakeman cited concerns about transgender women gaining an unfair advantage in athletic competitions. He struggled to identify any examples of such an issue materializing in his county, but framed the ban as a preventative measure.

In a 13-page decision, Ricigliano wrote that Blakeman instituted the ban “despite there being no corresponding legislative enactment providing the County Executive with the authority to issue such an order.”

In doing so, Ricigliano added, Blakeman exceeded the “scope of his authority as the Chief Executive Officer of Nassau County.”

The opinion went further than may have been expected by the ϲʿֱLU, which had sought a on the ban amid the litigation. But by focusing on the limitations of Blakeman’s powers, the judge skipped past the civil rights questions undergirding the case — robbing either side of a conclusive legal victory on those points.

Still, the ϲʿֱLU celebrated the demise of the ban Friday.

“We are gratified the court has struck down a harmful policy that belongs in the dustbin of history,” Gabriella Larios, a lawyer for the ϲʿֱLU, said in a . “The ruling deals a serious blow to County Executive Blakeman’s attempt to score cheap political points by peddling harmful stereotypes about transgender women and girls.”

Blakeman said in a statement that the decision displayed a “lack of courage from a Judge who didn’t want to decide the case on its merits.”

“Nassau County will appeal without much faith in Appellate Division applying the law without far left doctrine being used to undermine women’s sports,” he added, referring to the mid-level court division above the state Supreme Court.

In Nassau Supreme Court, the ϲʿֱLU had argued the ban violates New York State’s 2019 Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which gender identity-based discrimination in New York’s public spaces.

The Democratic state lawmaker who wrote the 2019 law, Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal of Manhattan, sided with the ϲʿֱLU.

“It’s very clear,” he said earlier this week. “You can’t discriminate against New Yorkers — whether they be adults or children — based on their gender identity or expression.”

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, at podium, speaks during a news conference in Mineola, N.Y., Wednesday, March 6, 2024. (Philip Marcelo/AP)
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, at podium, speaks during a news conference in Mineola, N.Y., Wednesday, March 6, 2024. (Philip Marcelo/AP)

The county argued in court documents that the ban was supported by the protections for women enshrined in the of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

Nassau County suggested in an that federal protections should be applied to “biological” women in sports, and that those protections supersede any competing protections for transgender women in state laws.

In a separate case, a federal judge, wrote that she found the county’s claims based on the equal protection rights of women and girls to be “unpersuasive.”

In the federal case, Nassau County sued state Attorney General Letitia James after she issued a urging the county to rescind its ban, which she described as “transphobic and blatantly illegal.”

Choudhury dismissed the county’s lawsuit last month. She ruled that the county lacked standing to bring the lone claim in its complaint against James, a Democrat.

Some Republicans appear to see transgender sports bans as a winning political issue. the measures are cruel and potentially dangerous to transgender youth, who report alarmingly high rates of depression.

The ϲʿֱLU on behalf of a Nassau County women’s roller derby league. The lawsuit said the league, the Long Island Roller Rebels, has at least one member who could have been barred from playing under the ban.

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