North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory filed suit Monday against the Department of Justice in a bid to preserve the state’s controversial “bathroom” law, after the Obama administration said the policy violates the civil rights of transgender people.
The state was facing a Monday deadline set by the administration to respond to its demand that North Carolina either scrap the law or face legal action and risk losing federal funds.
McCrory refused, and instead filed suit.
“The Department’s position is a baseless and blatant overreach,” the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of North Carolina, says. “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 law requires transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate. McCrory says the North Carolina law applies only to government offices, universities and road-side rest stops, not every bathroom in the state.
The Justice Department, though, had sent McCrory a letter last Wednesday stating the law violates federal civil rights laws.
The governor, speaking over the weekend with “Fox News Sunday,” said he asked the department for an extension and was given only until the close of business Monday.
“I don’t think that three working days is enough time for such a pretty big threat,” he told Fox News. “It’s the federal government being a bully, making law.”
McCrory also said he doesn’t have the legal authority to change laws and that the expectation that he can is “unrealistic.”
McCrory, who signed the bill into law in March, said last week that the department seems to be breaking new ground in claiming the North Carolina law violates Civil Rights Act protections against discrimination in education and the workplace.
And he said the administration’s warning means the issue is no longer confined to North Carolina.
“This is not just North Carolina,” said McCrory, arguing that every university that accepts federal funding is now in the same situation as those in his state.
Meanwhile, the administration is expected to soon take the bathroom issue further, to ensure that transgender student rights are fully protected under federal law, according to Politico. The move reportedly would be related to a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities, and multiple agencies are expected to be involved.