The U.S. Justice Department sued North Carolina on Monday shortly after the state filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the so-called “bathroom bill,” the Washington Post reports.
At issue is a state law that requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate.
The New York Times says the Department sent a letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on May 4, telling him the law violates the civil rights of transgender people. It urged the state to voluntarily abandon the measure or face consequences, such as the loss of federal funds or a lawsuit. Federal prosecutors set a Monday deadline.
According to the Post, McCrory filed a suit Monday morning. The complaint accused the federal government of overreaching its authority, and asked a federal court to determine whether the law, also known as House Bill 2 (or simply HB2), is discriminatory.
McCrory gave this statement during a news conference:
“We believe a court rather than a federal agency should tell our state, our nation and employers across the country what the law requires. Right now, the Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set basic restroom policies….for public and private employers across the country.”
The federal government contends the law violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said North Carolina’s bathroom law is similar in nature to racially segregated bathrooms during the Jim Crow era.
“This is about the dignity and respect that we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we as a people and a country have enacted to protect them,” Lynch said during her news conference after filing the federal lawsuit.
Lynch, a North Carolinian, said HB2 has no socially redeeming value. It only hurts a class of Americans.