DOJ's Lawsuits Over North Carolina's Transgender Bathroom Access Law

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 10, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Mere hours after North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory doubled down on the state's discriminatory bathroom access law, the U.S Department of Justice fired back, filing its own lawsuit to enjoin the state from enforcing the law.

The DOJ's Civil Rights Division had already warned McCrory that it saw the law, which prohibits people from using bathrooms with gender designations other than those on their birth certificates, as a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and would sue to enjoin its enforcement. Now the two sides will battle it out in federal court, and it's pretty clear which side will win.

Dignity and Respect

Attorney General Loretta Lynch was unequivocal in announcing the lawsuit yesterday:

"This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens, and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them -- indeed, to protect all of us. It's about the founding ideals that have led this country -- haltingly but inexorably -- in the direction of fairness, inclusion, and equality for all Americans."

Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sex, and the federal government has interpreted that protection to extend to sexual preference and gender identity. The Justice Department's lawsuit cited access to restrooms as a basic condition of employment and claimed that denying transgender individuals access to restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity amounted to unlawful sex discrimination.


Governor McCrory's lawsuit called DOJ efforts "an attempt to unilaterally rewrite long-established federal civil rights laws" and accused the federal government of "baseless and blatant overreach." Considering the dearth of evidence to support any safety concerns regarding unisex or trans-inclusive bathrooms, the same might be said of North Carolina's law.

And considering the federal government sets the minimum standard for civil rights protections, it's not hard to see which way this will go for McCrory and the state. In the meantime, you can see the DOJ's full lawsuit below:

United States v. North Carolina, et al. by FindLaw

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