The US government and North Carolina are suing each other over bathrooms

Highly political.
Highly political.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Drake
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In what has become a legal tit-for-tat, the US government and North Carolina are suing each other over the basic human function of using the bathroom.

It all started in March, with North Carolina’s introduction of a law that forces transgender people to use bathrooms according to whatever gender is written on their birth certificates, and not that with which they identify. The law sparked widespread outrage, including protests and a boycott of the state by some companies and politicians.

Last week, the US Department of Justice told the state of North Carolina that its new law violates the civil rights of transgender people. It warned that if the state didn’t stop enforcing the law by Monday (May 9), it would face a federal lawsuit.

Today, May 9, North Carolina governor Pat McCrory pre-emptively sued the federal government for “baseless and blatant overreach.” He claims the state’s gender-based bathroom rule is a “common sense law.” This afternoon, the federal government responded by following up on its threat, and filed a civil rights suit in a federal court in North Carolina. The government says North Carolina’s bathroom regulations violate provisions of the Civil Rights Act, of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.

“None of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something or someone that they are not,” said US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who compared the law to past bans on same-sex marriage and Jim Crow racial discrimination laws. Lynch added that the government reserved the right to cut federal funding to the state.

“This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them—indeed, to protect all of us,” she said.