Groups Seeking Injunction Over Bathroom Provision of HB2

The plaintiffs suing the state of North Carolina over House Bill 2 have asked a US District Court for a preliminary injunction stopping the provision of the law regulating bathroom and locker room use in public facilities.

The motion was filed by the national American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina and Lambda Legal on Monday.

The motion is seeking a preliminary injunction to keep the state “from enforcing Part I of House Bill 2.” That is the provision that requires transgender individuals to use the bathroom that corresponds with the individual’s birth certificate rather than their gender identity.

The lawsuit was initially filed in late March and additional plaintiffs joined the suit in late April claiming HB2 violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The US Department of Justice and the state of North Carolina have filed dueling lawsuits in federal court over the legislation.

Chris Brook is the legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina. He said in a release:

“HB 2 is causing ongoing and serious harm to transgender people in North Carolina and must be put on hold while it is reviewed by the court. The U.S. Justice Department has made it clear that HB 2 violates federal law. Governor McCrory and the North Carolina legislature wrote into state law discrimination against transgender people who just want to be able to use public facilities safely and securely.”

Kyle Palazzolo, staff attorney with Lambda Legal, also released a statement following the motion being filed:

“Each day that transgender North Carolinians are singled out by this harmful law, whether they are at school, at work, or just moving through their daily lives in society is another day the state is causing irreparable harm to an already vulnerable community. As Attorney General Lynch said this week, ‘none of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something they are not, or invents a problem that doesn’t exist as a pretext for discrimination and harassment,’ and we couldn’t agree more.”

There is no timeline in place for a ruling from the judge in this matter.

The US DOJ has said that it would not withhold federal funding from North Carolina until a conclusion is reached in the pending lawsuits, which could take months or even years to reach a final decision through the federal court system. The DOJ also sent a letter to school districts around the country last Friday telling the schools that Title IX protections extended to allowing transgender students to use the facilities of their choice. UNC System president Margaret Spellings said last week the system could not operate without federal funding.

NC Voter ID Court Battles Likely To Be Lengthy

Protesters rally for voter rights at Moral Monday; Photo by Rachel Nash

CHAPEL HILL – Our state became the 34th state in the nation to require voters to show a photo I.D. at the polls after Gov. Pat McCrory (Rep.) signed it into law last week. The new measure will bring sweeping changes to the state’s election process by reducing the early-voting period by a week, abolishing same-day voter registration and ending straight-party voting. The passage of the bill was immediately met with lawsuits filed in federal court questioning its constitutionality.

Mark Dorosin, managing attorney at UNC’s Center for Civil Rights and a member of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, has been following the course of this legislation since it was proposed in the General Assembly.

“A full and final resolution of the case could take several months or potentially more than a year, so I think that this issue will be tied up in litigation for quite some time,” Dorosin said.

Backers of the Voter I.D. Law, set to take effect in the 2016 election, said it will protect against voter fraud, but Dorosin said he believes fraud is not a problem in this state. He also added that the other provisions of the bill  have nothing to do with preventing voter fraud.

“There is no basis or any justification, I don’t think, for getting rid of same-day registration or early voting, other than to keep people from voting,” Dorosin said.

Several lawsuits have been filed in federal court after McCrory signed the voter I.D. bill into law on August 12. The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Foundation and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a suit on the grounds that provisions of the new law would unduly burden the right to vote and discriminates against African-American voters in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The N.C. NAACP and the Advancement Project filed a separate suit on the grounds that the law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bans voting procedures that discriminate based on race or membership in one of the language minority groups. The NAACP also said the voting restrictions violate the 14th and 15th amendments.

“The thing about the North Carolina case is that it is just not about the Voter ID Law, but in the case filed by the NAACP, challenges the range of voter suppression components of the new election law,” Dorosin said.

Groups in North Carolina aren’t the first to challenge Voter I.D. related legislation. In Pennsylvania, voter I.D. legislation has been in legal limbo since Republican Governor Tom Corbett signed the bill into law in March of 2012.

Dorosin said he believes court battles concerning the N.C. Voter I.D. will be more challenging than other cases in other states because the provisions of the bill are broader.