DOJ withdraws lawsuit against N.C. anti-trans bathroom law

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/14/breaking-doj-withdraws-lawsuit-n-c-anti-trans-bathroom-law/

Chris Johnson
April 14, 2017

Although North Carolina replaced anti-LGBT House Bill 2 with a law that critics say still enables anti-LGBT discrimination, the U.S. Justice Department has withdrawn the lawsuit against the state filed last year under Obama administration.

In a five-page notice, the Justice Department under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced it has voluntarily withdrawn the lawsuit filed last year by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

“In light of the passage of North Carolina Session Law 2017-4, House Bill 142, and pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41, the Parties in the above-captioned action hereby stipulate that all claims or causes of action against Defendants and all counterclaims against Plaintiff which were the subject matter of this lawsuit are hereby dismissed with prejudice,” the notice says.

After North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law the replacement measure for HB2, whether the Justice Department would continue the lawsuit it filed against the state over the initial law was in question. As of last month, a Justice Department said the U.S. government “reviewing its litigation posture” in the aftermath of the HB2 replacement.

Lynch’s lawsuit alleged HB2, which barred cities from enacting pro-LGBT ordinances and transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, contravenes federal law. The Justice Department alleged the law violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.

The deal Cooper signed, House Bill 142, replaces HB2 with a measure that LGBT advocates say is a bait-and-switch attempt giving the appearance of repeal while doubling-down on discrimination.

HB 142 prohibits state agencies, municipalities and the University of North Carolina from the “regulation of access” to bathrooms, locker rooms and showers unless they have the legislature’s permission. It also bans municipalities until 2020 from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures that would apply to private businesses or public accommodations.

Ford Porter, a Cooper spokesperson, said in response to DOJ’s withdrawal of the lawsuit against the North Carolina law the governor still supports statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

“The compromise to repeal HB2 took an important step in the right direction,” Porter said. “Gov. Cooper will continue to work to repair our state’s reputation and add statewide protections for LGBT North Carolinians.”

The withdraw of DOJ’s lawsuit in the aftermath of the switch is consistent with Sessions’ actions against transgender rights since his confirmation as U.S. attorney general. In fact, the Justice Department last month nixed its request for a preliminary injunction against HB2 in favor of an existing injunction against the law that was significantly more limited and applied only to plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit.

Jon W. Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, said in a statement the Justice Department is using the North Carolina’s new law as excuse to withdraw lawsuit even though the new statute still enables discrimination.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/14/breaking-doj-withdraws-lawsuit-n-c-anti-trans-bathroom-law/

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