UPDATE: U.S. Government Files Lawsuit Against North Carolina

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UPDATE 3:45 PM: The U.S. government filed a lawsuit Monday against North Carolina saying that state entities were in violation of provisions in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX the Education Acts Amendment of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act that outlaw discrimination on the basis of sex. The lawsuit comes hours after Gov. Pat McCrory sued the Justice Department, asking a federal court to rule whether the state’s so-called bathroom bill violated U.S. law.

PREVIOUS STORY 12:32 PM: North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration sued the federal government Monday in a fight for a state law that limits protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The lawsuit seeks to keep in place the law, which the U.S. Justice Department said last week violated the civil rights of transgender people against sex discrimination on the job and in education.

The Justice Department had set a Monday deadline for McCrory to report whether he would refuse to enforce the law that took effect in March. McCrory’s defiance could risk funding for the state’s university system and lead to a protracted legal battle.

Federal civil rights enforcement attorneys focused in their warning letters particularly on provisions requiring transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond to their biological sex. The letters threatening possible federal lawsuits were sent to McCrory, leaders of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system, and the state’s public safety agency.

McCrory’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in North Carolina, asks a judge to block Justice Department action that could threaten billions of dollars in federal money flowing to the state.

The lawsuit called the law a “common sense privacy policy” and said the Justice Department’s position was a “baseless and blatant overreach.”

“This is an attempt to unilaterally rewrite long-established federal civil rights laws in a manner that is wholly inconsistent with the intent of Congress and disregards decades of statutory interpretation by the courts,” the lawsuit said.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal – who are challenging House Bill 2 in federal court on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina – released the following statement:

“While transgender people in North Carolina remain in the perilous position of being forced to avoid public restrooms or risk violation of state law, Governor McCrory has doubled down on discrimination against them. The federal government made clear that HB 2’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. Transgender people work for the state of North Carolina, attend school in North Carolina, and are a part of every community across the state. It is unconscionable that the government is placing a target on their backs to advance this discriminatory political agenda.  Lawsuits are normally filed to stop discrimination—not to continue it.”