Federal judge tosses lawsuit against California allowing transgender women in women's prison

State never explicitly waived its immunity, and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation could already place males who identify as women in women's prison on case-by-case basis, Biden appointee says.

Published: May 20, 2024 11:37am

Updated: May 20, 2024 2:04pm

U.S. District Judge Jennifer Thurston has shocked the female inmates suing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation concerning a state law that allows men who identify as women in their prisons by dismissing their lawsuit on an argument neither party raised.

"As a state agency, it is a long-established principle that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is immune from suit in federal court under the Eleventh Amendment," the President Biden appointee wrote in her ruling last week. 

"While not fully briefed by CDCR, the Court cannot conclude that CDCR has unequivocally waived immunity and consented to federal jurisdiction," Thurston said. "Though CDCR has appeared and defended this action through the filing of a motion to dismiss, these actions do not constitute unequivocally expressing a waiver of immunity or consent to suit."

She also said she couldn't redress the four named plaintiffs' core complaint of biological males being placed in their facility because CDCR already allowed such placement on a case-by-case basis "at least three years prior" to SB 132 being signed into law by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

"We are reviewing the decision and considering our options for the next steps in this case," the gender-critical Women's Liberation Front, which is sponsoring the suit, wrote in an email Friday.

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