Justice Department asks judge to block transgender law
Posted July 6, 2016
RALEIGH, N.C. — The U.S. Justice Department has asked a federal judge to halt implementation of a North Carolina law requiring people to use the bathroom matching the gender on their birth certificate.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in May the department would try to block the most controversial provision of House Bill 2, saying it discriminates against transgender state workers and students. Gov. Pat McCrory and state lawmakers responded by suing the government, seeking a court order that the law doesn't discriminate.
A filing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in North Carolina says the Justice Department is likely to be successful in getting the law overturned based on a recent ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals involving a transgender student's bathroom access in Virginia.
University of North Carolina officials have said they don't enforce the bathroom rules on any of the system's campuses. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools recently adopted a policy allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice, and other school districts said they try to meet the needs of individual transgender students as best they can.
"Governor McCrory is appropriately seeking legal certainty to a complex issue impacting employers and students throughout the country," McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said in a statement. "In contrast, the Attorney General is using divisive rhetoric to advance the Obama administration's strategy of making laws that bypass the constitutional authority of Congress and our courts."
House Bill 2 also excludes gay and transgender people from state nondiscrimination protections and prohibits cities and counties from extending such protections to them, but the Justice Department hasn't challenged that portion of the law.
North Carolina lawmakers made only minor changes to the law last week, allowing people to sue in state courts if they believe they have faced employment discrimination.