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A Day of HB 2 Lawsuits: U.S. Sues NC; McCrory, Lawmakers Sue Justice Department

scales of justice

Updated 5:30 p.m.

The Justice Department has filed suit against North Carolina over House Bill 2. And North Carolina has filed not one but two lawsuits of its own against the Justice Department. WFAE's Tom Bullock joined All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey to break down the days's events.

UPDATED 4:52 p.m.

North Carolina Senate Leader Tim Moore and House Speaker Phil Berger have joined Gov. Pat McCrory in asking a federal court to decide whether gender identity is a protected class under federal civil rights law. The General Assembly's top leaders filed a separate suit Monday afternoon.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice made good on its threat to sue the state over House Bill 2, with a suit at federal court in Charlotte.

A Day of HB 2 Lawsuits: U.S. Sues NC; McCrory, Lawmakers Sue Justice Department

Like the governor's suit filed earlier Monday, Berger's and Moore's suit seeks a "declaratory judgment" on whether the state's House Bill 2 violates federal law.  It also goes further, asking the court to look at whether HB 2 violates Title IX of the federal civil rights law, which prohibits sex discrimination in  education.

"While we support the governor’s efforts, this is a separate lawsuit that also seeks clarity from the court on the Title IX issue," a spokeswoman for Moore said in an email.  

The lawsuits came in response to the Department of Justice's letter Friday threatening legal action over House Bill 2.  

At 4 p.m., Attorney General  Loretta Lynch announced in a press conference that the Department of Justice was moving forward with a suit.  Lynch compared HB 2 to laws that discriminated against African Americans.

"You cannot single out any one group for different treatment," Lynch said during the press conference. 

The dueling lawsuits follow disagreements over whether federal civil rights laws prohibiting sex discrimination apply to transgender people. 

The attorney general said laws, regulations and case law in Titles 7 and 9 of the Civil Rights Act and the Violence Against Women Act all make it clear HB 2 is in violation of federal law.   

UPDATED 12:50 p.m. - The U.S. Justice Department has scheduled press conference with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other officials to announce a "law enforcement action related to North Carolina."   The event is scheduled at 3:30 p.m.

This morning Governor Pat McCrory filed suit against the U.S. Justice Department, asking a court to weigh in on whether House Bill 2 is discriminatory.

Last Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter to Governor McCrory giving him until close of business today to declare the state would not enforce the bathroom provisions of House Bill 2 or risk court action or the potential loss of federal funds.

Yesterday, on Fox News Sunday, the governor said this, "I’m not going to risk any money for the state of North Carolina. And now even the DOT, the department of transportation, is putting out press releases saying they’re examining whether they can take away money for North Carolina roads."

Now the governor will take his chances in court. The federal suit in the Eastern District of North Carolina, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, in essence, calling on federal judges to decide if gender identity and expression does indeed fall under the protected class of sex in federal law. That is the crux of the U.S. Justice Department’s findings.