- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2016

Two of North Carolina’s top public officials on Monday filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the state’s transgender bathroom law.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry filed the lawsuit in response to an ultimatum issued on Friday by President Obama’s Department of Justice. The order gave North Carolina until Monday to repeal a law prohibiting people from using the public facilities of the opposite sex, or face crippling cuts in federal education funding.

The federal lawsuit asks the court for an injunction against the Justice Department’s order and calls the agency’s actions “baseless and blatant overreach.”

It says Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibit discrimination in employment and education, respectively, on the basis of “sex,” not “gender identity.”

“If the United States desires a new protected class under Title VII, it must seek such action by the United States Congress,” the lawsuit says.

In the letter to Mr. McCrory on Friday, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta made the opposite argument, saying both acts prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity, making North Carolina law HB2 impermissible.

SEE ALSO: White House says N.C. suit won’t stop Justice Dept. from crackdown over bathroom law

“The Department of Justice has determined that, as a result of compliance with and implementation of NC House Bill2, both you and the state of NC are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Ms. Gupta said.

The agency said North Carolina officials had until Monday to address the issue, or risks losing millions of dollars in federal education funding.

Mr. McCrory signaled on Sunday that the state would not comply with the order, saying the issue had taken on national significance about the ability of the federal government to determine state policy.

“This is no longer just a North Carolina issue,” the governor said on Fox News Sunday. “This is a basic change of norms that we’ve used for decades through the United States of America, and the Obama administration is now trying to change that norm. Again, not just in North Carolina, but they’re ordering this to every company in the United States of America.”

Gay-rights groups denounced North Carolina’s noncompliance with the Justice Department order, calling the law “blatantly unconstitutional.”

“The idea Governor McCrory is going to waste even more time and millions more taxpayer dollars defending it is reckless and wrong,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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