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Hecox v. Little

Description:  The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging Idaho’s Fairness in Women's Sports Act to force female athletes to compete against biological males who identify as female.


Idaho collegiate track athletes Mary Kate Marshall and Madison Kenyon
Friday, Apr 30, 2021

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT: Available for media interviews following 9th Circuit oral arguments in Hecox v. Little

WHEN: Immediately following hearing, which begins at 1 p.m. PDT, Monday, May 3

WHERE: To schedule an interview, contact AnnMarie Pariseau at (480) 417-3975; video of oral arguments and ensuing press conference are both available online

SAN FRANCISCO – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Idaho female collegiate athletes who support the state’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act will be available for media interviews Monday following oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Hecox v. Little, a lawsuit filed to challenge the law.

The oral arguments concern a district court order which temporarily halted enforcement of the law. The district court’s hold on the law means female athletes must compete against males who identify as female while the lawsuit proceeds. ADF attorneys are asking the 9th Circuit to reverse the district court’s order, and so are numerous female athletes, medical professionals, feminist groups, and 14 states that filed friend-of-the-court briefs.

“Women deserve the opportunity to be champions in their own sports,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “No girl should be forced to compete for second place to a male. That’s why we have women’s sports as a separate category. Males have large and insurmountable athletic advantages over comparably fit and trained female athletes. And when males are allowed to compete in women’s sports, girls lose. Idaho wants to protect the state’s female athletes and secure for them the equal athletic opportunities promised in federal law by Title IX. Girls deserve fair competition. If we want a future where they have the opportunity to showcase their talents and be champions, then we must protect the integrity of women’s sports.”

ADF attorneys, representing two collegiate athletes who run track and cross-country at Idaho State University in Pocatello, are defending the law alongside the state of Idaho. The two women ADF represents, Madison Kenyon and Mary Kate Marshall, are long-time athletes who are well familiar with the differences in strength, speed, and stamina between comparably gifted and trained male and female athletes.

“Our arguments are based on well-established science about the differences between male bodies and female bodies. The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act is not just constitutional; it’s necessary to protect the rights of women and girls,” said ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks, who will argue before the 9th Circuit on behalf of Kenyon and Marshall. “Both the law and simple fairness make the answer clear: Idaho’s law should be reinstated and allowed to stand.”

“As a cross-country runner for Idaho State University, I’ve been forced to compete repeatedly against a male athlete—and lost each and every race,” Kenyon explained. “Losing unfairly to someone who has natural advantages is frustrating and unmotivating, not just for me, but for my teammates as well. Idaho’s law protects my athletic future, the same way Title IX provided athletic futures for the female athletes who paved the way before me. I joined this lawsuit because I knew I had an opportunity to be a voice for girls and women in sports today and in the future.”

“I enthusiastically support Idaho’s Fairness in Women’s Sport Act because this is not just about me,” added Marshall. “This is about every girl who wants the chance to compete on a level playing field. Sports have played such an important role in my life. I’m not just doing this for my teammates and me; I’m doing this to preserve these opportunities for the next generation of women too. If women’s sports as we know it disappears, girls in the future won’t enjoy the same benefits of sport that I have. That is why I’m standing today for fairness in women’s sports.”

ADF attorneys also represent four female athletes in a federal lawsuit in Connecticut, where a policy that allows males who identify as female to compete in girls’ athletic events has consistently deprived the four girls of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Christiana Holcomb

Christiana Holcomb serves as legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is a key member of the Center for Conscience Initiatives. Since joining ADF in 2012, Holcomb has worked to protect women's and girls' sports and has defended the bodily privacy rights of students. She has also worked to protect the constitutionally protected freedom of churches, Christian schools, and Christian ministries to exercise their faith without government interference. Holcomb earned her J.D. in 2010 from Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy, where she graduated first in her class and served as a teaching assistant in criminal law. Also in 2010, Holcomb completed the ADF leadership development program to become a Blackstone Fellow. She is admitted to the state bar of California, the U.S. Supreme Court, and numerous federal district and appellate courts.

ABOUT Roger Brooks

Roger G. Brooks serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is a key member of the Center for Conscience Initiatives. Brooks focuses his efforts on protecting freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, student privacy, and parental rights. Prior to joining ADF in 2018, Brooks worked with the New York law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore for 25 years, 19 of those as a partner in the litigation department. Brooks received an A.B. from Princeton University, followed by a master’s degree in history and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia. After law school, Brooks clerked with the Hon. John D. Butzner, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. He received his Master of Divinity from Regent College Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia. Brooks served on the board of ADF (2012-2014) and on the board of the Christian Legal Society (2002-2011). He is a member of the state bars of New York and North Carolina.