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North Carolina sues the Fed over claims HB2 violates civil rights

Brad Kutner | May 9, 2016

In a bold move, the state of North Carolina has filed a lawsuit against the federal government asking for a higher court to determine if the law violates civil rights.

This suit comes just hours ahead of a Department of Justice deadline given as a warning last week. the DOJ informed the state and its Governor that  HB2 violates the rights of transgender individuals by forcing them into the wrong bathroom, or putting them in a separate facility because of their sex, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

NC’s suit is particularly interesting because the federal court which oversees the state has already ruled on transgender bathroom use. Back in mid-April, the Fourth Circuit sided with Gloucester County student Gavin Grimm who identifies as a female-to-male transgender saying his school’s policy forcing him to use the restroom of his birth gender violated his civil rights under Title IX.

Details on that ruling point out a number of both new and old standards for transfolk’s gender identity to be respected, you can and should read more about it here.

But that didn’t seem to sway NC and it’s Governor Pat McCrory (top image) who has laughed in the face of businesses canceling multi-million dollar projects, and the state’s tourism commission predicting even more losses because of the bill.

“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,” said Governor McCrory in a statement on his website. “They are now telling every government agency and every company that employs more than 15 people that men should be allowed to use a women’s locker room, restroom or shower facility.”

The Justice Department’s warning last week detailed where HB2 went wrong, and gave the state and McCrory till today to address the situation. This lawsuit appears to be his response.

McCrory and NC are already facing a lawsuit of their own from the state’s ACLU, Equality NC and Joaquín Carcaño, a transgender employee of their public College system.

“While transgender people in North Carolina remain in the perilous position of being forced to avoid public restrooms or risk violation of state law, Governor McCrory has doubled down on discrimination against them,” said the NCACLU and Lambda Legal in a joint statement. “Transgender people work for the state of North Carolina, attend school in North Carolina, and are a part of every community across the state. It is unconscionable that the government is placing a target on their backs to advance this discriminatory political agenda.  Lawsuits are normally filed to stop discrimination—not to continue it.”

McCrory continues to isolate himself on this issue, with polls showing a majority of North Carolinians do not support his stance on the bill. According to a Public Policy Polling survey from late April, 45% of the state are opposed to the bill while only 36% support it – the numbers get worse along party lines, but all of these numbers come in an election year where McCrory will have to explain why discrimination is worth more than positive economic impacts, a federal lawsuit, and even more losses in tourism funding for a beach-friendly state.

Top image via Gov. McCrory’s flicker page