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Kansas judge allows ACLU to intervene in lawsuit over gender markers on driver’s licenses

Aug 19, 2023, 6:45 PM

FILE - Zoe Schell, from Topeka, Kan., stands on the steps of the Kansas Statehouse during a rally t...

FILE - Zoe Schell, from Topeka, Kan., stands on the steps of the Kansas Statehouse during a rally to protest the Supreme Court's ruling on abortion June 24, 2022, in Topeka. Republicans and their anti-abortion allies, who suffered a series of defeats in ballot questions in states across the political spectrum in 2022, are changing tactics as new 2023 legislative sessions and the new election season start. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has agreed to allow the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit that seeks to force the state to list the sex that people were assigned at birth on their driver’s licenses.

Attorney General Kris Kobach filed a lawsuit last month seeking to compel the Kansas Department of Revenue to permanently halt gender marker changes, pointing to a new state law with strict definitions of sex along biological lines. The state agency argues that the attorney general overstepped his authority.

The ACLU sought to become a party to the lawsuit, arguing that the interests of its transgender clients would be irreparably harmed if Kobach prevails. The group says the state agency isn’t sufficiently raising constitutional arguments.

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In her ruling Friday, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported, Shawnee County Judge Teresa found that the ACLU has a substantial interest in the litigation because the group is raising constitutional questions that could affect how the law is administered. Watson had already ordered the agency to pause any marker changes until a hearing in November on a longer-lasting injunction.

“We look forward to rebutting their novel theories in court,” said Kobach, who had argued against letting the ACLU intervene, saying it would create a legal morass.

Sharon Brett, the state ACLU’s legal director, said in a statement that her group is “gratified” to join the case.

“For our clients and the entire community they represent, this case is about the privacy, dignity, and autonomy that comes from having accurate gender markers on their license, and about their right to be safe from the harassment they would face if forced to present inaccurate IDs that would essentially out them against their will in daily life,” she said.

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Kansas judge allows ACLU to intervene in lawsuit over gender markers on driver’s licenses