U.S. Department of Justice Drops Obama-Era Suit Challenging North Carolina’s ‘Bathroom Bill’

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has dropped a lawsuit that had been filed last May under the Obama administration in an effort to force the state of North Carolina to allow men who identify as women to use women’s restrooms, and vice versa.

The DOJ filed a notice of dismissal on Friday, citing that the state recently passed House Bill 142, which repealed the law that sparked the lawsuit in the first place.

“In light of the passage of … House Bill 142… the parties in the above-captioned action hereby stipulate that all claims or causes of action against defendants and all counterclaims against plaintiff which were the subject matter of this lawsuit are hereby dismissed with prejudice,” the legal filing read.

As previously reported, last month, Republican lawmakers reached a compromise with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, which they said would still protect bodily privacy and give power to the state to regulate restroom use, while repealing the current “bathroom bill” that had caused controversy.

“State agencies, boards, offices, departments, institutions, branches of government, including the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Community College System, and political subdivisions of the state, including local boards of education, are preempted from regulation of access to multiple occupancy restrooms, showers, or changing facilities, except in accordance with an act of the General Assembly,” H.B. 142 reads.

The bill, which was signed into law by Cooper the same day as its passage, also prohibits local municipalities from passing restroom regulations until 2020.

The Obama administration had sued the state of North Carolina last May after lawmakers passed H.B. 2, which required those using restrooms in government buildings to use the facilities that correspond with their birth gender. Those who identify as the opposite sex could present a copy of their amended birth certificate.

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But U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asserted that North Carolina was in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and filed suit to challenge the regulation.

“[T]he legislature and the governor placed North Carolina in direct opposition to federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity,” she said during a news conference.

Then-Gov. Pat McCrory, however, had first sued the Obama administration for trying to force officials to give men who identify as women entrance to women’s restrooms. The Republican governor said that the DOJ is twisting the law to force an agenda.

“I do not agree with their interpretation of federal law. That is why … I have asked a federal court to clarify what the law actually is,” he said. “This is not a North Carolina issue. It is now a national issue.”

In February, the Trump administration withdrew the prior administration’s restroom directives, stating that the guidance issued under the Obama administration did not “contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.”

“This interpretation has given rise to significant litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms,” the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice stated.

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