CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The United States Justice Department is asking a federal judge to step in and stop the state of North Carolina from enforcing the bathroom provision of House Bill 2.
The request for a temporary injunction was filed just days after the North Carolina Legislature adjourned for the year without addressing the most controversial portion of HB2, which requires transgender people to use bathrooms based on their biological sex.
The bill was passed after Charlotte City Council passed an anti-discrimination ordinance that gave transgender people the option of using bathrooms according to the gender they identify with.
The filing by the USDOJ calls HB2 "state-sponsored discrimination" and said by enforcing it the state of North Carolina is causing irreparable harm.
Legal expert James Wyatt said the DOJ will have to convince a judge it is likely to win the case at trial in order to be granted a temporary injunction.
Wyatt said a recent ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals that sided with a transgender student’s rights to use the bathroom of his choice could be troublesome for HB2 backers.
“There is case law backing the government’s position,” Wyatt said.
An injunction won’t necessarily mean Charlotte’s LGBT ordinance will go back into effect completely.
City sources said the DOJ case may apply only to government agencies and employees and not include other businesses and buildings. That’s because the DOJ filing doesn’t specifically mention another section of HB2 which prohibits municipalities from passing their own community-wide anti-discrimination laws.
HB2 opponents say they’re still encouraged.
“At the end of the day not only would we like to see Charlotte’s ordinance stand, we would like to see a statewide protection included for LGBT people that includes public accommodations,” said Matt Hirschy, a spokesman for Equality NC.
Attorneys representing the state are expected to file a response to the USDOJ injunction request. The judge in the case could make a decision within 30 to 60 days.
"Gov. McCrory is appropriately seeking legal certainty to a complex issue impacting employers and students throughout the country," said Josh Ellis, McCrory’s communications director. "In contrast, the Attorney General is using divisive rhetoric to advance the Obama administration's strategy of making laws that bypass the constitutional authority of Congress and our courts."
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