Department of Justice asks judge to halt implementation of HB2

Department of Justice asks judge to halt implementation of HB2

RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - The United States Department of Justice asked a federal judge on Tuesday to halt implementation of controversial legislation requiring individuals to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate.

The request was made in a legal filing late Tuesday night, the same day President Barack Obama visited the state with Hillary Clinton, his party's presumptive nominee for president. Separately, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, also held a campaign event in the state.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced in May her department was taking action to permanently stop HB2.

Attorneys for the DOJ outlined their argument as to why the law should be stopped in a 70-page legal brief.

In the brief, the government argues that it is likely to be successful in its case seeking to strike HB2 altogether based on a recent ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals involving a transgender student's access to a bathroom in a Virginia school district.

The brief reiterates arguments previously made by the government in opposition to HB2, including claims that the law violations the Violence Against Women Act and Title IX, which requires educational institutions to provide equal access and treatment to students of all genders.

The brief goes on to say "privacy and public safety concerns do not justify HB2's discrimination."

It is not clear when a judge may rule on the government's request.

The request comes less than a week after the North Carolina General Assembly failed to pass a bill that would have made a number of changes to HB2.

A draft of the legislation was exclusively obtained by On Your Side Investigates last week. Under the proposal, transgender individuals would have been able to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender with a 'certificate of sex reassignment'. The bill would also have established a blue ribbon commission to study issues surrounding equal rights.

RELATED: NC House leadership drafts HB2 changes amid pressure from NBA

Last Tuesday, when WBTV first published details of the proposal, a person with knowledge of the NBA's plans for the 2017 All Star game--currently scheduled to be played in Charlotte--said passage of the legislation would have gone a long way towards persuading the league to keep the game in the Queen City.

Later in the week, though, the NBA said it opposed the draft legislation.

Ultimately, the legislature voted only to change a portion of HB2 that stripped workers of the right to sue their employers for wrongful termination.

Wednesday evening, Governor McCrory's communications director Josh Ellis issued a statement about the DOJ's filings.

"Governor McCrory is appropriately seeking legal certainty to a complex issue impacting employers and students throughout the country," said Josh Ellis. "In contrast, the Attorney General is using divisive rhetoric to advance the Obama administration's strategy of making laws that bypass the constitutional authority of Congress and our courts."

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