by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The authors of The Federalist Papers neglected to explain the fearsome powers that inhere in the “Dear Colleague” letter under our system of government.
It is the instrument by which middling bureaucrats impose their will on the nation, as the assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education and the principal deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice just did in the matter of transgender bathroom policy in our schools and colleges.
The transgender edict is a perfect distillation of the Obama administration’s centralizing reflex, high-handed unilateral rule, and burning desire to push the boundaries of cultural change as far as practical in its remaining time in office.
There is no obvious need for a continental nation of more than 300 million people, with more than 14,000 school districts, to have one rule imposed from above on how to handle the sensitive (and suddenly all-consuming) question of which bathrooms transgender students have access to. Communities should be free to formulate their own policies, in accord with their own mores and particular view of what makes sense.
The Obama administration has decided that such localism, allowing for experiment and flexibility, is impermissible under federal law. Its letter is backed by the implicit threat of withdrawal of federal funds (a more appropriate salutation might have been “To Whom It Concerns — Or Else”). The letter contends that Title IX, the federal statute banning sex discrimination in education, mandates its preferred transgender policy.