Civil Rights

North Carolina AG won't defend suit over transgender bathroom law

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The attorney general of North Carolina has announced that his office will not defend a new state statute requiring restrooms at government buildings that are available for use by multiple persons to be restricted to those whose biological sex matches the gender indicated at the bathroom door.

Enacted last week and immediately signed into law by the state’s governor, the so-called bathroom bill was challenged in a federal lawsuit (PDF) filed Monday by civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, a law professor and other plaintiffs.

Calling the new law cruel, insulting, unconstitutional and a violation of Title IX, those involved in bringing the suit say it targets lesbian, gay, bisexual and in particular transgender individuals throughout the state for discrimination, the Charlotte Observer reports.

AG Roy Cooper said in a Tuesday news conference that the new law, known as House Bill 2, is “a national embarrassment” that will promote discrimination, and vowed that his office will not defend the Monday suit or similar litigation that he anticipates could also be forthcoming, according to Reuters and WNCN.

Cooper, a Democrat, is challenging the state’s Republican incumbent, Gov. Pat McCrory, in the November election for the state’s top job.

His refusal to defend the law sparked a call by state Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican, for Cooper to step down from the AG’s office, WNCN reports.

Coopers refusal “makes clear he wants the ACLU to win by default in federal court what they can’t win at the ballot box and allow men to walk into locker rooms at YMCAs across our country and undress in front of young girls,” said Berger in a written statement provided to the station. “His zeal for pandering for the extreme left’s money and agenda in his race for governor is making it impossible for him to fulfill his duties as attorney general—and he should resign immediately.”

Cooper said he is fulfilling his oath of office by standing up against discrimination and noted that his office has previously defended “some bad legislation” with which he personally disagreed.

It isn’t clear how North Carolina can defend the ACLU suit, if those in charge of the state wish to do so; however, Cooper indicated that the governor or state lawmakers could bring in outside counsel, WNCN reports.

Related coverage:

Charlotte Observer: “NC governor’s race could be nation’s most competitive “

The New Yorker: “North Carolina and the Gay-Rights Backlash”

See also: “Suburban Chicago school board OKs full locker room access for transgender student”

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