Editorials, Opinion

Morrisey’s lawsuits wasting tax dollars to ‘own the libs’

The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to reinstate West Virginia’s trans-athlete ban after Attorney General Patrick Morrisey requested an emergency injunction to put the law back into effect as the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals considers the case. 

In response, Morrisey said it was only a “temporary setback” and his office will refocus its efforts on the court of appeals. 

Doesn’t Morrisey have anything better to do than pick on a single transgender middle schooler?  

Because that’s who this law actively affects: A transgender girl on the Bridgeport Middle track team. She is the only transgender athlete known to be impacted by West Virginia’s 2021 law limiting certain “sex specific” sports teams to players assigned that sex at birth. 

Multiple studies and statistical analyses show there’s little to no competitive advantage for transgender female athletes, especially if they start puberty blockers or hormone treatments before puberty starts. Certainly, there’s less advantage for a trans-athlete than there is for an athlete like Michael Phelps, whose genetics give him a distinct edge. The NCAA and many professional sports already have protocols in place to allow transgender athletes to compete in the fairest ways possible. 

Besides, sports aren’t all about winning and losing or even scholarships and awards, especially at the elementary and middle school levels. Sports are about learning teamwork, discipline and perseverance — and having fun. No child should be denied the opportunity to play.   

There are a lot of facets to the trans-athlete debate, and the larger question will have to be addressed eventually. But why does this have to be West Virginia’s fight? As one judge has already said, the trans-athlete ban was a solution looking for a problem.  With only one transgender athlete known to be impacted, why is Morrisey using West Virginians’ tax dollars to fund this — likely long-lasting — legal battle?  

There are more important things Morrisey could be doing. 

In fact, maybe if Morrisey and his office hadn’t been so fixated on attacking a transgender kid, they could have negotiated a better settlement with Juul e-cigarettes than the paltry $7.9 million they announced this week. Juul has been bombarded with lawsuits after multiple studies and investigations found it deliberately targeted young people and misled consumers about the amount of nicotine in its products as well as potential health risks. 

Last month, the City of Chicago settled with Juul for almost $24 million; the city might have 1 million more people than West Virginia, but it’s receiving nearly $16 million more. Just yesterday, it was announced six states and the District of Columbia settled with Juul for $462 million ($66 million per state, assuming it’s split evenly).  

All of which is to say that $7.9 million is a pittance compared to what other states have received through similar litigation. This isn’t surprising, of course, considering we’ve repeatedly noted Morrisey’s tendency to settle with big corporations for pennies on the dollar. Meanwhile, he combats every safety or environmental regulation that would protect our people and our state. 

Morrisey’s record as attorney general shows he’d rather expend more effort — and taxpayer dollars — “owning the libs” and  scoring political points than using his office to actually help West Virginians.