ICYMI: Why Arkansas' GIRLS Act Levels the Playing FieldTue, Mar 23, 2021
Why Arkansas' GIRLS Act Levels the Playing Field
Real Clear Politics
By: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
March 20, 2021
LITTLE ROCK – This weekend, an op-ed written by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appeared in Real Clear Politics. The piece detailed Rutledge’s leadership protecting young Arkansans by proposing the GIRLS Act and challenging President Biden’s effort to dismantle equity for females in girls’ sports.
“I was robbed,” cries out your daughter as she sits silently and watches her classmate take her position on the starting line. You agree. But, unfortunately, you have no words to comfort your daughter in her time of need. As parents, we tell our children if you work hard, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to; however, you never prepared your daughter for a situation of this caliber.
Unfortunately, this is a stark reality for some parents across the nation where, in states such as Connecticut, transgender boys are allowed to compete against biological girls in sporting events.
How do you explain to a 15-year-old that all of the late nights and early mornings training and perfecting technique were for nothing? Because the truth of the matter is, it isn’t your daughter’s lack of ability holding her back but rather a physiological difference that makes it nearly impossible for her to be able to compete against someone who was a biological male at birth.
As a mother of a precious 2½-half-year old girl, I want my daughter to not only have the opportunity to compete in sports, but also to succeed. As attorney general, and on behalf of my daughter and all of our young female athletes in the great state of Arkansas, I hereby challenge President Biden’s Executive Order 13988 in the state of Arkansas with The GIRLS Act: Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation for Sports.
The GIRLS Act will provide equity for females in girls’ sports. Under this legislation, all schools will be required to monitor and enforce its athletes competing in the proper athletic event based on the sex assignment found on their birth certificate. The proposed bill allows anyone who is deprived of athletic opportunities to seek a court order stopping the violation along with damages and attorney’s fees in a lawsuit against any Arkansas school that violates the legislation.
We in the state of Arkansas are simply asking that biological boys compete against one another in physical competitions. This ensures equity for all -- boys, girls, and individuals who identify as transgender.
President Biden’s executive order “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation” stipulates that “all persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.” But shouldn’t that same standard apply to biological females?
Title IX was established to protect against sex-based discrimination, yet President Biden’s executive order blatantly affects biological females and their ability to succeed. There are enough societal barriers for girls to overcome without the federal government unjustly implementing more to their detriment.
For 49 years, Title IX has worked to level the playing field for young girls looking to participate in athletics. One of President Biden’s first moves was an executive order setting these rights back potentially decades.
Sports in particular have been proven to improve self-esteem in girls during adolescence, decrease their chance of developing depression, as well as provide opportunities for them to succeed later in life through scholarships and academic achievement in college. Values like teamwork, leadership, and perseverance are instilled at a young age, and continue on with our female athletes well into the rest of their lives.
In a world where females are already at a societal disadvantage, we should be championing their rights as young athletes. The GIRLS Act not only challenges President Biden’s executive order, it ensures that our female athletes and their right to compete in sports in a non-biased manner is enforced. My little girl, and yours, deserve to be represented and they deserve equal opportunities to succeed in all areas of life, including athletics.
Attorney General Rutledge Introduces Faith Family Freedom ActsMon, Mar 22, 2021
Rutledge says, ‘This legislation is just one way we can honor those who put their lives on the line for our freedoms in America and Arkansas’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today introduced legislation aimed at strengthening American patriotism in schools throughout Arkansas called Faith Family Freedom Acts. The first of these acts is called “Star-Spangled Banner Act” and will require each public school to play The Star-Spangled Banner at the start of school-sanctioned sporting events. The second piece of legislation would make public schools observe a moment of silence following the daily Pledge of Allegiance of the United States.
“America is the greatest country in the world, yet cancel culture is trying to stamp out the foundation of our republic despite the generations of Americans and Arkansans who have fought and died for our country, and we must never forget their sacrifice,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This legislation is just one way we can honor those who put their lives on the line for our freedoms in America and Arkansas.”
Rutledge believes it is deeply important for Arkansas students to learn the national anthem because the goal of the Star-Spangled Banner Act is to foster patriotism and celebrate the common American experience. The legislation states Arkansas public schools, K-12 and post-secondary institutions, must adopt a policy requiring each school to broadcast The Star-Spangled Banner at the beginning of each sporting event. If there is more than one school-sanctioned sporting event on the same day, the school may choose to play the national anthem at one of those events. K-12 schools must also play the national anthem once during school hours, and the school band and choir programs may learn and perform The Star-Spangled Banner. If passed, these changes must be implemented by January 1, 2022.
Moment of Silence Act is amending current state law to make it mandatory that students recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day in school. If passed, the State Board of Education would issue a policy that requires public schools K-12 to take a one-minute moment of silence following the daily Pledge of Allegiance during the first class of each school day. During that moment of silence, each student may reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity that would not interfere or distract another student.
Senator Jane English, District 34, and Representative Mark Berry, District 82, are the lead sponsors of both bills.
Attorney General Rutledge Files Lawsuit Challenging Cancellation of Keystone XL PermitThu, Mar 18, 2021
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge sued President Joe Biden to challenge his unilateral revocation of President Donald Trump’s 2019 Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. President Biden’s action destroyed hundreds of Arkansans’ good-paying jobs. In February, thirteen attorneys general advised President Biden in a letter that their states were reviewing available legal options to protect their citizens and interests.
“I warned President Biden to reverse course and reinstate the Keystone Pipeline permit, which would have saved thousands of jobs, but he refused,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I have personally visited with hardworking Arkansans who lost their jobs on the Keystone Pipeline, and they told me about the pain and financial strain their families and communities face because of President Biden’s unlawful action.”
The lawsuit explains that President Biden’s unilateral action will harm America’s economy, hurt consumers, displace workers, increase our dependence on foreign energy resources, and ultimately harm the environment. The complaint also explains that President Biden failed to consult with the states before taking an action that will have far-reaching consequences and sets a dangerous precedent that prioritizes leftists’ agenda over America’s economy.
In addition to Attorney General Rutledge, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming, have joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs.
Attorney General Rutledge Urges Feds to Respect State’s Ability to Cut TaxesWed, Mar 17, 2021
Twenty-one States Warn Language in American Rescue Plan Act Could Prevent States from Implementing Any Tax Relief
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Leslie Rutledge signed a letter urging the U.S. Department of Treasury to take immediate action to ensure the American Rescue Plan Act does not strip States of their core authority to implement basic state tax policy. Certain provisions of the Act forbid States from using COVID-19 relief funds to “directly or indirectly offset a reduction in…net tax revenues” resulting from state laws or regulations that reduce tax burdens, whether by cutting rates or by giving rebates, deductions, credits, “or otherwise.” Attorney General Rutledge warns that this language could be used to deny Arkansas and other States the ability to cut taxes in any manner, even if they would have provided tax relief with or without the prospect of COVID-19 relief funds.
“Arkansans and Americans have been navigating this difficult time during the Covid-19 pandemic, and now with the American Rescue Plan Act they must navigate confusing language that doesn’t spell out States’ ability to cut taxes,” Attorney General Rutledge said. “This is a massive $1.9 trillion economic aid package, but its restrictions are an invasion of state sovereignty and we are telling the Treasury it must act now before Arkansans suffer.”
Attorney General Rutledge and her colleagues are urging the Treasury to adopt a reasonable interpretation of the language, warning that a broad interpretation would result in an unprecedented and unconstitutional intrusion on the sovereignty of the States. Attorney General Rutledge is asking the Treasury to confirm by March 23 that the Act does not prohibit States from generally providing tax relief, and that the Act simply precludes express use of the relief funds to provide direct tax cuts. The attorneys general will take further appropriate action if such an assurance is not provided to ensure Arkansas and other States have the clarity and assurance needed to enact and implement sensible tax policies for the taxpayers.
Joining Attorney General Rutledge were attorneys general from the states of Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Rutledge Leads 18 States in Support of Religious Liberty and School Choice at U.S. Supreme CourtTue, Mar 16, 2021
Says, ‘parents must be empowered to make the best educational decisions for their children’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge led an 18-state coalition urging the United States Supreme Court to protect religious liberty in school-choice programs. Rutledge filed a brief arguing that the U.S. Constitution forbids state school-choice programs from discriminating against religious schools.
“States do not need to discriminate against religious schools to have successful school-choice programs,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Constitution requires respect for religious liberty and parents must be empowered to make the best educational decisions for their children, whether it be a public or private school, secular or religious, and their choice should not be limited by their family’s financial capabilities or zip code. It certainly must not be limited by their faith.”
Arkansas has a record of success partnering with private schools, which includes religious schools, to increase access to educational options. For example, the Succeed Scholarship Program, enacted in 2015, provides private-school scholarships to students with disabilities, students in foster care, and other students. Religious schools are important participants in the Succeed Scholarship Program.
The Arkansas-led brief was joined by Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Carson as Parent and Next Friend of O.C. v. Makin, No. 20-1088.
Attorney General Rutledge Files Opioid Lawsuit Against WalgreensMon, Mar 15, 2021
Lawsuit claims Walgreens fueled the opioid epidemic that disproportionately affects Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today filed a lawsuit against Walgreens for its role in fueling the opioid crisis in Arkansas and across America. The epidemic has become so prevalent in Arkansas that 66 out of the 75 counties in the State have overall opioid prescribing rates higher than the national average and there are enough opioids in Arkansas being sold that every man, woman and child can take 80 pills each over the course of a year. For its part, Walgreens failed in its responsibility to report suspicious orders of prescription opioids and ignored red flags about prescriptions dispensed at its Arkansas stores.
“Opioid abuse is an epidemic in Arkansas, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The impact of opioid abuse on Arkansans is disproportionately high compared to other states and though this lawsuit won’t be able to right all of the wrongs that have been done, it can bring desperately needed assistance to devastated families and communities. Companies such as Walgreens should not be allowed to put corporate profits over the health and safety of Arkansans.”
The dangers of opioids are well known, and all companies in the supply chain of the controlled substance, including Walgreens, have the primary responsibility of ensuring the drugs are only distributed and given to the appropriate patients and not landing in the hands of anyone else. As indicated in the complaint, “Walgreens has contributed substantially to the opioid crisis by selling, distributing, and dispensing far greater quantities of prescription opioids than it knows could be necessary for legitimate medical uses, while failing to report, and to take steps to halt, suspicious orders when they were identified, thereby exacerbating the oversupply of such drugs and fueling an illegal secondary market.”
The lawsuit seeks an injunction to force Walgreens to act responsibly and follow federal and state laws and damages for fueling the public health epidemic, as well as civil penalties for each violation of Arkansas’s consumer protection laws.
Rutledge has taken an aggressive approach to protect Arkansans and combat the epidemic by suing manufacturers Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma and Endo for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act. In April 2019, Rutledge filed a separate lawsuit against distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson Corporation and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation for violations of the ADTPA as well as for negligence, creation of a public nuisance and being unjustly enriched by their business practices.