Firing Back, DOJ Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against NC for 'State-Sanctioned Discrimination'

In direct response to a lawsuit filed by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory filed earlier in the day against the federal government, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch held a press conference Monday afternoon to announce the Justice Department is now filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state.

Calling North Carolina’s controversial HB2 law nothing less than “state-sponsored discrimination” against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender individuals living in or visiting the state, Lynch said the Gov. Pat McCrory, the state university system, and public agencies have had every opportunity to address the federal violations contained in the law, but have refused to do so.

“Today we are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of North Carolina, Governor Patrick McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and the University of North Carolina,” announced Lynch. 

“We are seeking a court order declaring HB2’s ‘restroom restriction’ impermissibly discriminatory as well as a statewide bar on its enforcement,” she said. “Now while the current lawsuit seeks declaratory relief, I want to note that we retain the option of curtailing federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina as this case proceeds. This action is about a great deal more than bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws we as citizens and a country haven’t enacted to protect them. Indeed, to protect all of us.”

The federal suit, she continued, “is about the founding ideals that have led this country – haltingly but inexorably – in the direction of fairness, inclusion, and equality for all Americans.  This is not a time to act out of fear.  This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion, and open-mindedness.  What we must not do – what we must never do – is turn on our neighbors, our family members, our fellow Americans, for something they cannot control, and deny what makes them human.”


According to a statement by the DOJ, the federal complaint

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal — who are challenging HB 2 in federal court on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina — applauded the DOJ for taking forceful legal action against a law they called “a targeted and unprecedented attack” on the LGBT community, particularly transgender people.

“The Justice Department has reaffirmed its letter to Gov. McCrory and what we put forth in our complaint when we filed our lawsuit in March,” the rights groups said in a statement. “The federal government made clear that HB2’s mandate of discrimination against transgender people violates federal civil rights laws, but McCrory and other political leaders in the state have decided to risk federal funding to maintain that discrimination.”

While McCrory has “doubled down on discrimination,” the groups continued, “the Department of Justice is living up to its name in seeking to uphold the legal protections for transgender people in the state. But the battle is far from over. We will be fighting in court for our clients until they are treated equal not just in the restrooms but at their jobs and in the community.”