On Monday, the Justice Department and North Carolina filed dueling lawsuits over the state’s controversial transgender bathroom law, the in the Tar Heel State showdown. The Obama administration filed their brief after the state filed a declaratory judgment asking the federal courts to clarify federal law.
“They created state-sponsored discrimination against transgender individuals,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a press conference late Monday afternoon.
In a suit filed late Monday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, the Justice Department alleged a “pattern or practice of employment discrimination on the basis of sex” against the state of North Carolina over the law requiring transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory was sent an ultimatum in a letter on Wednesday May 4 claiming the law violates the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. The state law requires transgender people to use bathrooms that match the sex printed on their birth certificate and it applies only to government offices, universities and road-side rest stops, not every bathroom in the state.
“This is not just a North Carolina issue, this is now a national issue,” Gov. McCrory said at a press conference Monday afternoon. “We believe a court rather than a federal agency should tell our state, our nation and employers across the country what the law requires.”
To be clear, the Civil Rights Act was intended to protect racial minorities against discrimination in education and the workplace. There are separate laws targeted toward gender, but they are meant to protect women, not men who say they are women and visa versa.
“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not address gender or sexuality,” said Judge Andrew Napolitano, a columnist at PPD and Fox News’ senior legal analyst. “This is a typical clash of a 50-year-old statute that was written in a time when transgender wasn’t even an issue.”
In his lawsuit, Gov. McCrory accused the administration of a “baseless and blatant overreach” and argued their opposition to the law was based on a “radical interpretation” of the Civil Rights Act.
“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 state’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of North Carolina, said.
The Tar Heel State has been the target of a relatively insignificant boycott from certain businesses. PayPal Holdings Inc.(NASDAQ:PYPL), for instance, cancelled the opening of an office in the state, though they also do business in nations that punish homosexuality with death. PPD requested the company’s comment to the obvious contradiction but have received no response.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration will push the issue of transgendered bathrooms even further. They will seek to ensure transgender students are protected under federal law. A source in the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the push will cite a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs and other related activities. The source said the president will deploy multiple agencies in a multi-pronged approach.