CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A federal judge nominated to the bench by then-President George W. Bush has temporarily blocked the University of North Carolina from enforcing the state’s restroom law as it pertains to three individuals at the educational institution.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal had sought an injunction on behalf of two students and one employee who desired to use the restroom that corresponded with their gender identity rather than their birth certificate.
North Carolina’s H.B. 2 H.B. 2 permits those who identify as transgender to use the restroom that correlates with their preferred identity if they obtain a revised birth certificate, and the law only applies to government facilities.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder granted the three plaintiffs a temporary injunction while the case moves forward in court. He did not yet rule on the merits of the law, only the likelihood of success standard required for an injunction.
Schroeder ruled that current statutes were sufficient to prevent wrongdoing.
“North Carolina’s peeping and indecent exposure statutes continue to protect the privacy of citizens,” he said, “and there is no indication that a sexual predator could successfully claim transgender status as a defense against prosecution under these statutes.”
The suit had been filed against Gov. McCrory along with Sen. Phil Berger, president pro tempore of the North Carolina Senate, and Speaker of the House Rep. Tim Moore, speaker of the House. All three expressed little concern over the development.
“The Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act is still in effect,” Bob Stephens, general counsel to McCrory, said in a statement. “The judge’s limited injunction only applies to three individuals and is based on a Fourth Circuit decision recently stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court. This is not a final resolution of this case, and the governor will continue to defend North Carolina law.”
“While the court granted a limited injunction for three individuals, we are pleased it preserved the common-sense protections to keep grown men out of bathrooms and showers with women and young girls for our public schools and for nearly 10 million North Carolinians statewide,” Berger and Moore also said in a joint statement.
The ACLU applauded the move, however, opining that the case would eventually open the door for all transgenders in the state.
“We’re confident justice will prevail in the larger case after the judge hears all the evidence at trial this fall so that all gay and transgender North Carolinians will be free from the harm of H.B. 2.,” Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement.
As previously reported, a federal judge placed a preliminary injunction this week on the Obama administration’s national directive requiring public school districts to allow male students who identify as female to use the girls’ restroom and vice versa.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor determined that the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice had not followed the proper channels in issuing the nationwide guidance, and suggested that the departments’ interpretation of federal law was incorrect.
“It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex … following passage of Title IX meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth,” he wrote.
“Without question, permitting educational institutions to provide separate housing to male and female students, and separate educational instruction concerning human sexuality, was to protect students’ personal privacy, or discussion of their personal privacy, while in the presence of members of the opposite biological sex.”