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Nineteen Democratic state attorneys general filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit filed by students at religious colleges challenging the exemption granted to those colleges under Title IX, the federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination based on sex at higher education institutions.

The 18 states and the District of Columbia back the students’ argument that 2020 rules approved by the Trump administration are unlawful. The respective rules broadened eligibility criteria for the religious exemption and eliminated a requirement that colleges seeking to claim a religious exemption under Title IX advise the Department of Education of their intent in writing.

“In combination, the rules harm students, place them at higher risk of being victims of sex discrimination, and make it more difficult to hold schools accountable for the resulting harm,” the brief argues.

The states do not take a position on the students’ claim that the religious exemption itself is unconstitutional.

Oregon attorney general Ellen Rosenblum is leading the coalition of states that filed the brief. She was joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

The students originally brought the suit in federal court against the U.S. Department of Education. Last month, the court approved motions submitted by the Council of Christian Colleges and three religious colleges to intervene in the suit to defend Title IX’s religious exemption.