Will Racke, DCNF
The Department of Justice said Friday that it has dropped a lawsuit against North Carolina over its so-called “bathroom bill” requiring transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates.
Department lawyers said in a court filing they were abandoning the lawsuit — filed by the Obama administration in May 2016 — because the North Carolina legislature repealed the bill last month and replaced it with another measure, The Washington Post reported.
The move follows the Trump administration’s decision to revoke Department of Education guidance that states students have a right to use the public school bathrooms matching their gender identity. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was critical of the guidelines, has said federal authorities should defer to local lawmakers on the issue.
North Carolina’s original bathroom bill, known as HB2, caused a storm of protests from LGBT activists when it was signed last year. The bill reversed municipal ordinances that expanded anti-discrimination protections to transgender people, drawing opposition from both the LGBT community and corporations, which threatened to pull business from the state.
Companies including Deutsche Bank and PayPal shelved plans to expand in North Carolina, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association and National Basketball Association threatened to move games out of the state if the bill wasn’t repealed.
Under economic pressure, state lawmakers killed HB2 and passed a new measure in March that ended the bathroom provisions. The new law gives state legislators, not local governments, the power to change public bathroom policies in the future and prohibits local governments from enacting new nondiscrimination ordinances until 2020.
While the new deal satisfied the NCAA and NBA’s demands, transgender rights groups say it will have the same effects as HB2.
“Here is yet another instance of the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrawing the federal government’s support from transgender individuals, and they are using the fake repeal of HB 2 as cover,” Jon W. Davidson, legal director of the group Lambda Legal, said in a statement. “Sadly, this was not unexpected, now that anti-transgender forces are in charge of the Departments of Justice and Education.”
Lambda Legal, which along with the American Civil Liberties Union sued North Carolina over HB2, says it will amend its lawsuit to cover the replacement law.
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