(RALEIGH, N.C.) — North Carolina filed a lawsuit Monday against the Department of Justice in an effort to push back against a warning that House Bill 2, a controversial law that critics have called “anti-LGBT,” violates the Civil Rights Act.
Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to respond publicly Monday after an agreement to postpone his reply could not be reached.
On Friday, the DOJ sent a letter to the state informing the government that the state’s HB2, also known as the “bathroom bill,” violates the Civil Rights Act. The department gave the state until Monday to respond to the letter “by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2.”
The governor, along with fellow plaintiff Frank Perry, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, accused the DOJ of a “radical reinterpretation” of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and wrote that the federal government position was “a baseless and blatant overreach” in the state’s declaratory judgment action filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
“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,” said the complaint.
McCrory and Perry argue that transgender status is not a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The complaint does not make mention of the Justice Department’s interpretation of Title IX.
On Friday, the DOJ also sent a letter to the University of North Carolina, declaring that the school system was in violation of Title IX of the Higher Education Act.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes North Carolina, ruled in April that a Virginia high school policy banning a transgender student from using the boys’ restrooms was discriminatory.
McCrory, speaking to Fox News Sunday, spoke in discordant terms about the DOJ’s warning, calling the federal government “a bully”.
“[They are] trying to define gender identity, and there is no clear identification or definition of gender identity,” McCrory said to host Chris Wallace.
He asserted that the law only pertained only to government offices, universities and road-side rest stops, and did not affect private businesses.
McCrory also said that he doesn’t have the legal authority to change laws and that the expectation that he can is “unrealistic.”
The law, which critics say is anti-LGBT because it discriminates against gay and transgender residents, has been the source of controversy since it was first introduced. But supporters argue the law defends religious liberty and protects girls in public restrooms.
HB2 was signed into law by Gov. McCrory in March, and directs all public schools, government agencies and public college campuses to require that multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities, such as locker rooms, be designated for use only by people based on their “biological sex” stated on their birth certificate. Transgender people can use the bathrooms and changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity only if they get the biological sex on their birth certificate changed.
The law also declares that state law overrides all local ordinances concerning wages, employment and public accommodations. So, the law bars local municipalities from creating their own rules prohibiting discrimination in public places based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
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