The federal government and a group of states have each fired fresh salvos in the battle over transgender access to bathrooms, locker rooms, and similar facilities.
Late Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion for preliminary injunctive relief in the Middle District of North Carolina, asking the court to block the implementation and enforcement of Section 1.3 of HB2, the state’s controversial “bathroom bill,” passed in March. While the law does a variety of things, the section in question mandates that transgender people use bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate, rather than the gender with which they identify, in public facilities, including state schools and universities.
In May, the Justice Department announced it was suing the state of North Carolina as well as the University of North Carolina System, saying the law violated Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who grew up in the Old North State, likened the law to Jim Crow and called it “state-sponsored discrimination.” The motion filed Tuesday leans heavily on a decision earlier this spring by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the Department of Education could interpret the Civil Rights Act to include gender identity. The motion also lays out a preview of what the department would likely argue in court, contending that precedent is clearly on their side, and arguing that steps like allowing amended birth certificates do not negate HB2’s discriminatory effect. (Read the full filing below.)
The federal government didn’t rest with the lawsuit against North Carolina. A few days later, the Justice and Education Departments sent a letter to states outlining their interpretation of transgender discrimination and instructing them that such discrimination would violate federal law. Several states sued the federal government in response, challenging the guidance.
On Wednesday, those states filed their own application for preliminary injunction to block the federal guidance:
First, Defendants skirted the notice and comment process—a necessity for legislative rules. Second, the new mandates are incompatible with Title VII and Title IX. Third, the mandates violate the clear notice and anti-coercion requirements controlling the federal government’s power to attach strings to spending programs.
In addition to Texas, the other states involved in the suit are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. The full filing is below.