LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin is asking for special handling of the state’s appeal of a court ruling blocking a law that would ban gender-affirming-care prevention for minors.
The AG asked the entire U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday to hear its appeal of a June ruling that stopped the implementation of the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act, or SAFE Act.
The law was originally passed by the General Assembly in 2021 after overturning a veto from then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
A federal judge blocked the law from going into effect in July of that year, and a three-judge panel upheld that ban on the law 11 months later.
A three-judge panel would normally hear an appeal, but Griffin’s Thursday filing asked for the hearing to be conducted “en banc,” meaning the appeal would be made before the full court.
Griffin cited the changing legal landscape after the court overturned the Arkansas law, which was the first of its kind in the nation aimed at gender-affirming-care for minors, in light of other states now having passed similar laws.
“I am asking the full Eighth Circuit to hear our appeal now rather than assigning this case to a three-judge panel,” Griffin said. “Two other federal courts of appeal have allowed similar laws protecting children from experimental gender-transition procedures in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama to go into effect. Those decisions demonstrate that last year’s three-judge panel decision upholding an order blocking Arkansas’s law was erroneous, and that’s why I am asking the entire court to overrule that decision.”
Griffin filed the initial appeal shortly after the July ruling. Hutchinson’s successor, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, backed Griffin’s push for appeal and said the first panel’s decision just pushed “a political agenda.”
“This is not “care” – it’s activists pushing a political agenda at the expense of our kids and subjecting them to permanent and harmful procedures,” Sanders tweeted in June. “Only in the far-Left’s woke vision of America is it not appropriate to protect children.”
The suit originally challenging the law was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas on behalf of four transgender youth and their families, and ACLU Executive Director Holly Dickson has called Griffin’s continued push to challenge the judges’ decision “bullying” by the attorney general.