Raleigh, N.C. – On Monday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department over claims that the state’s bathroom law violated federal civil rights laws. Filed in federal court in Raleigh, the lawsuit bans transgender people from using public restrooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates.
The Justice Department sent McCrory a letter last week saying the state law was discriminatory, while the governor’s lawyers argued in the lawsuit that the Justice Department had gone too far in those claims.
The bathroom law was enacted on March 23 and marked the first in the United States to force transgender people to use only those public bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex.
“This is an attempt to unilaterally rewrite long-established federal civil rights laws in a manner that is wholly inconsistent with the intent of Congress and disregards decades of statutory interpretation by the courts,” the court papers read, according to a report by Los Angeles Times.
The Justice Department letter, sent on May 4, said the state would face a civil rights lawsuit if it failed to explain by Monday how it would reformulate the law to meet federal standards.
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The state law, enacted on March 23, applies to bathrooms in public offices and facilities such as airports, libraries, schools, universities and highway rest stops, among other places. It excludes bathrooms in private businesses, according to L.A. Times.
Vanita Gupta, the department’s top civil rights lawyer, said the state law violated provisions of federal law by denying such access to transgender people, whose gender identity is not the same as the one assigned at birth.
Advocates and opponents
McCrory and other conservatives argue the law is necessary to protect women who may be at risk of sexual assault in public bathrooms.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas supports the state law, but he dropped out of the Republican presidential race last week. In contrast, Donald Trump has said the state law is all but useful. He noted there had been almost zero complaints related to sexual assault due to transgender individuals’ access to public bathrooms corresponding to their sexual identity.
On the other hand, entertainers, sports teams and business groups have protested against the law. The NBA said it would move the All-Star game next year to another state if the law is preserved and PayPal last month changed its mind about opening an operations center in North Carolina.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights campaign, said McCrory’s idea could cost the state millions of dollars and described his plans as “reckless and wrong.”
Source: Los Angeles Times