Backers of proposed California anti-transgender ballot measure lose lawsuit over wording

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A Sacramento County Superior Court judge sided with the California Attorney General’s Office over the wording of a proposed ballot initiative that would restrict transgender peoples’ rights in the state.

Judge Stephen Acquisto, a Gov. Jerry Brown appointee, had previously decided in favor of Attorney General Rob Bonta in a tentative ruling last week. On Monday, he reaffirmed that decision in a final ruling, writing that the attorney general’s wording of the proposed initiative was accurate and impartially stated.

The ballot measure in question would prohibit transgender youths from receiving gender-affirming medical care, even with parental permission and even if treatment is medically recommended.

It also would force transgender students to use bathrooms that do not correspond with their gender identity and bar trans girls from participating in girls’ sports.

Finally, it would implement a statewide “parental notification” law, requiring schools to inform parents if a student goes by a different name or uses pronouns other than those assigned at birth, regardless of whether this would place the student in danger.

Proponents of the proposed initiative argued in court that the attorney general’s description of it was prejudicial, that the phrase “restricts rights” had a negative connotation.

They also argued that the proposed initiative title, which Bonta labeled “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth” should be labeled “Protect Kids of California Act of 2024.”

Judge Acquisto disagreed.

“The proposed measure objectively ‘restricts rights’ of transgender youth by preventing the exercise of their existing rights. ‘Restricts rights of transgender youth’ is an accurate and impartial description of the proposed measure,” Acquisto wrote in the ruling.

The judge wrote that the term “protect” itself was not only “subjective and debatable,” but also that it “appears to be the type of advocacy disallowed in a title and summary.”

“The attorney general’s wording, on the other hand, provides an accurate description of the immediate and tangible effect of the proposed measure,” Acquisto wrote.

Bonta’s office released a statement in response to the ruling, saying, “We are pleased with the court’s decision to uphold the attorney general’s fair and accurate title and summary for this measure.”

Nicole Pearson, an attorney for initiative proponent Protect Kids California, said in a statement that “we are reviewing our options for an appeal of these clear errors and will announce a decision shortly.”

“The mental gymnastics Judge Acquisto did to justify his erroneous ruling are not only an egregious abuse of discretion that entitles our clients to an appeal, but a chilling interpretation of law that jeopardizes the very foundation of our constitutional republic,” Pearson said.


Republican National Committee co-chair (and former President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law) Lara Trump is set to speak at the California Republican Party 2024 Convention next month.

Trump’s installation as co-chair last month was followed by what Politico described as a “bloodbath” at the RNC, with dozens of staffers being cut. Lara Trump and Michael Whatley took over the RNC last month from Ronna McDaniel, with Donald Trump’s backing.

“Co-Chair Trump is a relentless advocate for the Republican Party, President Donald Trump, and Republican candidates up and down the ticket,” CAGOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement. “As a prominent political figure and national conservative leader, I look forward to welcoming her to our convention stage in May.”

While Lara Trump will come to California, it’s unlikely the former president will make a personal appearance at the convention. He is in New York City, where he is attending the first of several criminal trials.

President Joe Biden beat Trump by 29 percentage points in California in 2020.


“Do people understand that we could be literally months away from another Trump administration and Biden and Dems are busy setting the precedent that the U.S. government can ban an entire social media app used by millions of people over vague ‘national security’ concerns?”

- LGBTQ activist Evan Greer, discussing Congress’ effort to ban the social media app Tik Tok, via Bluesky.

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