Justice Dept. Drops ‘Bathroom Bill’ Lawsuit

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Justice Department on Friday dropped a suit against North Carolina challenging the state’s controversial “bathroom bill,” which eliminated anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

Citing a deal the North Carolina legislature struck last month to eliminate the most well-known point of the House Bill 2, which required transgender people to use the public bathroom corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate, the Justice Department said the suit started under Obama administration’s did not need to continue.

“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 notice of dismissal filed Friday reads.

The Obama administration brought the lawsuit in May 2016, less than two months after the bill passed the North Carolina legislature. At the time the Justice Department said the bill violated Titles VII and IX of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against people based on sex in both employment and education contexts.

Though the new bill eliminates the bathroom requirement that turned HB 2 into a national firestorm last year, it prevents local governments from passing new nondiscrimination laws until 2020 and has done little to ease the concerns of LGBT groups and civil rights organizations.

In February the Trump administration also rolled back an Obama-era policy that allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity in public schools.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has worked on challenges to HB 2 since its passage, condemned the Trump administration’s decision to drop the suit, saying the new bill leaves in place “many of the harms” caused by the original.

“The Trump administration may want to use the fake repeal of HB 2 as an excuse to further turn their backs on the transgender community, but the rest of us aren’t going to give up that easily,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project. “We’ll continue this fight as long as it takes to truly strike down this disastrous law for good.”

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