WATCH: Here We Go – North Carolina, Justice Department File Dueling Lawsuits Over Transgender ‘Bathroom Bill’


North Carolina’s bathroom law: Six points from both sides of the issue

Officials in North Carolina and the U.S. Justice Department filed dueling lawsuits against each other on Monday regarding the state’s law on public restrooms and transgender people.

The Justice Department says it’s protecting the rights of transgender Americans and charges North Carolina with codifying discrimination.

North Carolina says its protecting people who feel their privacy may be violated and that the federal government is overstepping its authority.

A new CNN/ORC poll says that 57% of Americans oppose laws requiring transgender people to use facilities that do not match their gender identity, while 38% support them.

Here are six of the key issues in both lawsuits, as told from both sides of the issue.

Transgender rights vs. privacy rights

How do you balance the rights of people who don’t want to share a bathroom with someone who has genitalia opposite of theirs with the rights of people who have a gender identity that doesn’t correspond with the sex organs they have?
It’s a tricky question that both suits address.
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SOURCE: CNN – Joshua Berlinger


The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Monday against North Carolina authorities, hours after the state filed its own lawsuit against the federal government pushing back against attempts to convince authorities not to enforce the so-called “bathroom bill.”

These dueling lawsuits marked a sharp escalation in the fight between the two sides over a law specifying who can use which bathrooms in North Carolina, a measure that has thrust the state into the epicenter of the debate over transgender rights. Both complaints came five days after Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, had sent a letter to North Carolina Gov. McCrory (R) calling on him to say that he would abandon the law, which bans transgender people from using bathrooms that don’t match the gender on their birth certificates.

“This is about the dignity and respect that we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we as a people and a country have enacted to protect them,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said during a news conference after the Justice Department’s lawsuit was filed.

Lynch compared the bathroom law to earlier measures that mandated different bathrooms and water fountains for black and white people. Aiming her remarks directly at residents of North Carolina, her home state, she said: “This law provides no benefits to society and all it does is harm innocent Americans.”

McCrory filed a lawsuit Monday morning against the Department of Justice, asking a federal court to rule that its so-called “bathroom law” is not discriminatory. In his complaint, McCrory (R) accused the federal government of “baseless and blatant overreach,” and he said he was filing the lawsuit to help stave off uncertainty sparked by the debate and to ensure that North Carolina does not lose out on federal funding until the issue is resolved in court.

“We believe a court rather than a federal agency should tell our state, our nation and employers across the country what the law requires,” McCrory said during a news conference Monday afternoon. He added: “Right now, the Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set basic restroom policies….for public and private employers across the country.”

In its own filing Monday, the Justice Department followed through on what Gupta had hinted in her letter last week. Gupta had said that the Justice Department believed North Carolina was violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by “engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees.” The letter went on to say that if Lynch had a reason to believe a state was doing this, she could head to court to remedy the issue.

After North Carolina filed its lawsuit Monday morning, the Justice Department said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch would announce a “law enforcement action related to North Carolina” later in the day, but did not specify what that would be. This action marks the second high-profile confrontation between Lynch, a North Carolina native, and the Tar Heel State, as they are facing off in a fight over voting rights.

The federal complaint against North Carolina said the bathroom bill “requires public agencies to follow a facially discriminatory policy of treating transgender individuals, whose gender identity may not match their birth certificates, differently from similarly situated non-transgender individuals.”

The Justice Department had sent a letter to McCrory last week saying it determined that the controversial legislation, known as House Bill 2, violated federal civil rights law. Federal officials said that if no changes were made by the end of business Monday, they were prepared to file a lawsuit or strip the state of some federal funding. McCrory painted his lawsuit Monday as a response to the timetable laid out by the federal government.

“I do not agree with their interpretation of federal law,” McCrory said during his news conference. “That is why this morning I have asked a federal court to clarify what the law actually is.”


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SOURCE: The Washington Post
Mark Berman and Sarah Larimer