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Federal judge puts a hold on Tennessee bathroom signage law

A federal judge on Friday halted enforcement of a new Tennessee law requiring businesses to post special signs if they allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. 

The first-of-its-kind law went into effect on July 1 and would require such businesses to post signs on multiperson bathrooms that read, “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom.”

Businesses in Nashville and Chattanooga sued over the law, claiming that being forced to post those signs would violate their First Amendment rights by compelling them to communicate language they find offensive. The state of Tennessee argued in court that the signs are merely factual.

In her Friday decision, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger handed a victory to the businesses that sued, granting a preliminary injunction that effectively prevents the state from enforcing the law while the case works through the courts. She noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has found that compelling individuals to “‘mouth support for views they find objectionable’” violates a cardinal constitutional command unless justified by “the strongest of rationales.”

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