Skip to main content
Card Image

First case over protection of women's sports reaches US Supreme Court

ADF attorneys file motion asking high court to reverse 4th Circuit’s injunction against WV’s women’s sports law

Friday, Mar 10, 2023

WASHINGTON – In the first case to come before the U.S. Supreme Court addressing today’s threats to women’s sports, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom and the West Virginia attorney general’s office filed a motion Thursday asking the high court to reverse a federal appeals court’s injunction blocking West Virginia’s women’s sports law without providing any rationale. In the case, B.P.J. v. West Virginia State Board of Education, ADF attorneys represent Lainey Armistead, a former West Virginia State University soccer player who intervened in the lawsuit to defend the state’s law that was enacted to ensure equal athletic opportunities for women.

In January, a federal district court upheld West Virginia’s law, rejecting a legal challenge that would have undermined women’s sports in the state by allowing males who identify as female to compete on girls’ and women’s teams. The plaintiff, a male athlete, then asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to halt enforcement of the law during the appeal so the athlete could try out for a girls’ track team in the spring. Days later, the 4th Circuit granted the request without providing any legal or factual basis for its decision—only stating that the injunction was granted. In Thursday’s motion, ADF attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to vacate the 4th Circuit’s decision and allow West Virginia’s duly enacted women’s sports law to take full effect.

“Female athletes have fought long and hard for equal opportunities, and they deserve to compete on a fair and level playing field,” said ADF Senior Counsel Christiana Kiefer. “Biological differences between males and females matter in sports. West Virginia and 17 other states have enacted laws that protect women and girls from having to compete against males. Every woman deserves the respect and dignity that comes with having an equal opportunity to excel and win in athletics.”

“West Virginia wisely passed the Women’s Sports Act so women can fairly compete in athletics, requiring males to compete on teams consistent with their sex. That path is legal, logical, and longstanding,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “We urge the Supreme Court to allow West Virginia to enforce the law, respect the will of the state’s citizens, and preserve equal athletic opportunities for women and girls.”

The motion attorneys with ADF and the West Virginia attorney general’s office filed explains that West Virginia enacted the Women’s Sports Act “‘to promote equal athletic opportunities for the female sex’ due to ‘inherent differences’ of biology that make it unfair or even dangerous for males to compete against female athletes. And the West Virginia Legislature was not alone in its concern—seventeen more States have passed nearly identical laws. These laws reflect the realities of interscholastic sports today; for instance, a sponsor of one of the first bills drew from her experience as a Division I athlete and coach.”

The West Virginia attorney general announced the filing at a press conference Thursday.

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.

# # #