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‘Judge shopping’: Puberty blocker ban opponents file new suit after declining case before Judge Liles Burke

Plaintiffs challenging Alabama’s “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act” filed a new suit against the law Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.

The bill, passed by the Alabama Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey earlier this month, forbids minors from being prescribed puberty-blocking medication. The legislation also prevents minors from undergoing gender-altering medical procedures and carries criminal penalties for physicians who are found to be in violation the law.

The new filing comes on the heels of plaintiffs dropping the original suit, which was set to go before Judge Liles Burke of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, who was nominated to the bench in 2017 by former President Donald Trump.

In Burke’s dismissal order, he stated that the plaintiffs appeared to be “judge shopping,” a practice in which a party seeks to place the case in front of a favorable court.

“Plaintiffs’ counsel is now telling the media that they ‘plan to refile immediately.’ At the risk of stating the obvious, Plaintiffs’ course of conduct could give the appearance of judge shopping,” wrote Burke in Monday’s order.

Plaintiffs in the new lawsuit consist of four Alabama parents of transgender minors as well as two anonymous doctors and Paul Eknes-Tucker, who serves as senior pastor at Birmingham’s Pilgrim United Church of Christ.

The challengers are seeking to block the law from going into effect, which is set to occur early next month, while the court proceedings take place.

Those in opposition to the law include left-wing advocacy organization such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Lambda Legal and Transgender Law Center.

According to Attorney General Steve Marshall, the plaintiffs declining to have their case heard before Burke proves that the law’s challengers did not have an immediate need to be granted “emergency relief.”

“After having demanded emergency relief and then agreed to have their case heard in the Northern District Federal Court, both sets of plaintiffs unexpectedly and inexplicably dismissed their cases within nine minutes of each other Friday night,” said Marshall in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Their actions strongly suggest that they do not, in fact, have an urgent need for emergency relief. It is difficult to come to any other conclusion.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL