Justice Department Dismisses Lawsuit Against North Carolina's Discriminatory HB 2 After Fake "Repeal"

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April 14, 2017

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of North Carolina today condemned the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to dismiss its lawsuit challenging House Bill 2, the discriminatory North Carolina law that banned many transgender people from restrooms and other public facilities matching their gender and prohibited local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

The Justice Department cited the passage on March 30 of House Bill 142 – a purported “repeal” of HB 2 that in fact left many of the harms caused by HB 2 in place – as the reason for its withdrawal.

“Here is yet another instance of the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrawing the federal government’s support from transgender individuals, and they are using the fake repeal of HB 2 as cover,” said Jon W. Davidson, Legal Director and Eden/Rushing Chair, Lambda Legal. “Sadly, this was not unexpected, now that anti-transgender forces are in charge of the Departments of Justice and Education. Once again, the Trump administration continues to abandon transgender Americans.”

In the nearly three months since taking office, President Trump and the Trump administration have, among other anti-transgender steps, rescinded guidance from the Obama administration on the treatment of transgender students; rescinded President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order; and declined to appeal the preliminary injunction against enforcement of protections for transition-related health care in the Affordable Care Act Section’s regulations issued in Franciscan Alliance v. Burwell.

“The Trump Administration may want to use the fake repeal of HB 2 as an excuse to further turn their backs on the transgender community, but the rest of us aren’t going to give up that easily,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project. “We’ll continue this fight as long as it takes to truly strike down this disastrous law for good.”

HB 142 – the anti-transgender replacement for HB 2 – continues to bar any protections for transgender people using restrooms or other facilities in schools or other state or local government buildings in North Carolina.

This means public schools, courthouses, and state and local government agencies cannot have a policy that allows transgender people to use the right restroom. It also prevents cities from passing any protections against discrimination in private or places of public accommodation — for LGBT people or anyone — until 2020.

The ACLU, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal have worked on Carcaño v. McCrory (now known as Carcaño v. Cooper), a federal court challenge to HB 2, for more than a year on behalf of four LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina.

The organizations will continue to defend the right of transgender people to use restrooms and changing facilities consistent with their gender identity, as federal law requires. The lawsuit, which includes claims for the damages inflicted by HB 2, will continue, and the legal team will seek to amend the lawsuit to challenge HB 142 as well.