North Carolina is suing the federal government over the state’s transgender bathroom law, which the Justice Department has requested the state abandon.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R) filed the lawsuit Monday against the United States Justice Department, requesting that a federal court rule that its so-called “bathroom law” is not discriminatory, according to a statement.
McCrory accuses the federal government of “baseless and blatant overreach” in its request that North Carolina abandon its HB2 bathroom law, which bans transgender people from using bathrooms that don’t match their gender on their birth certificate.
“The Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set restroom policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina. This is now a national issue that applies to every state and it needs to be resolved at the federal level.”
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) May 9, 2016
The North Carolina governor said over the weekend that he would respond on Monday to the Justice Department’s request that he abandon the bathroom bill that he signed into law in March.
McCrory told Fox News he had asked federal officials to push back its “unrealistic” Monday deadline but was told he could only get more time if he publicly called the bathroom law discriminatory.
“I’m not going to publicly announce that something discriminates, which is agreeing with their letter, because we’re really talking about a letter in which they’re trying to define gender identity. And there is no clear identification or definition of gender identity. It’s the federal government being a bully.”
The lawsuit comes in response to a letter sent to North Carolina last week by Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, in which federal officials claim that North Carolina’s bathroom law violates federal civil rights law.
North Carolina was given until the close of business Monday to say whether the state “will not comply with or implement” the federal government’s demand. North Carolina is also required to tell state employees that “consistent with federal law, they are permitted to access bathrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity.”
— Reuters Legal (@ReutersLegal) May 9, 2016
Federal officials said if North Caroline did not comply, they would face a lawsuit or loss of some federal funding.
The battle over House Bill 2 is expected to heat up, could be costly for the state, and will likely be decided by the courts.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D), who is facing McCrory for the gubernatorial seat in November, has said he will not defend the so-called bathroom law.
Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper, dismissed McCrory’s complaint Sunday that he didn’t have sufficient time to defend the HB2 law.
“Governor McCrory signed HB2 into law in the dark of night after passing it in just 12 hours, and now complains when he’s given five days to defend it. The governor needs to undo this law now and stop playing politics with our economy.”
— ABC News (@ABC) May 4, 2016
McCrory has said the state bathroom law was a necessary response to a Charlotte city ordinance that expanded civil rights protections for people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to the Washington Post, the financial impact of not complying with the federal government’s demands to abandon the bathroom law could cost North Carolina billions of dollars in federal funding, including funds for the Education Department, which receives more than $4 billion from the federal department, much of it in the form of student loans.
The North Carolina HB2 bathroom law has faced intense opposition from business groups, and the boycott of businesses such as Deutsche Bank and PayPal has cost North Carolina a reported $77 million.
[Image via AP Images]