A sternly worded letterBy
Just weeks before North Carolina Republicans enacted their insta-infamous HB2 transgender discrimination law, I wrote that the M.O. of the extremist Republican Party is this: find the lines, cross them, dare people to push them back. Yesterday the U.S. Department of Justice pushed back:
RALEIGH — U.S. Justice Department officials repudiated North Carolina’s House Bill 2 on Wednesday, telling Gov. Pat McCrory that the law violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding.
The department gave state officials until Monday to respond “by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2.”
This was not unexpected. When Republican legislators placed an anti-marriage equality amendment to the North Carolina state constitution on the 2012 primary ballot, then N.C. House Speaker (now U.S. Senator) Thom Tillis told the NCSU newspaper, “If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years.” That assessment did not stop them. Amendment 1 did pass. A federal court declared it unconstitutional in two.
HB2 has been in place less than two months.
Knowing they could not stop it, Democratic legislators (IIRC) made a deal to move the divisive Amendment 1 to the 2012 primary ballot instead of the fall ballot. Rumor has it that the NCGOP has been kicking around the idea of placing some version of HB2 on the fall ballot this year to help get out the conservative vote. (Republican politicians do nothing that isn’t at least a twofer.) The Department of Justice may have just put the brakes on that.
The DOJ letter to Pat McCrory says (via TPM):
“The State is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both you, in your official capacity, and the State are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of Title VII rights by transgender employees of public agencies,” Principal Deputy Assistant General Vanita Gupta wrote in the letter to McCrory obtained by local Raleigh TV station WRAL.
The Justice Department letter was focused specifically on transgender state employees.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against an individual based on sex. The DOJ alleged that HB2 also violates Title IX, which prohibits education discrimination based on sex.
“HB 2, which took effect on March 23, 2016, is facially discriminatory against transgender employees on the basis of sex because it treats transgender employees, whose gender identity does not match their biological sex, as defined by HB2, differently from similarly situated non transgender employees,” the letter reads.
McCrory’s Democratic challenger this fall, Attorney General Roy Cooper, said, “Enough is enough. It’s time for the Governor to put our schools and economy first and work to repeal this devastating law.”
A new poll has McCrory trailing Cooper by five points.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)