A closer look at House Bill 2, lawsuit

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Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina filed a lawsuit in federal court today calling HB2 unconstitutional. A UNCG student is one of the plaintiffs involved, as well as a UNC Chapel Hill employee.

A UNCG student is one of the plaintiffs involved, as well as a UNC-Chapel Hill employee.

Read the full lawsuit: http://acluofnc.org/files/Lawsuits/Carcano_v__McCrory_Complaint.pdf
House Bill 2: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015E2/Bills/House/PDF/H2v1.pdf

Elon Law Associate Professor Enrique Armijo says HB2 is not just about bathrooms.

“What the state has done here is written a statewide anti-discrimination law, excluded sexual orientation from that law and said that any anti-discrimination law in N.C. must match that law. And therefore no locality in the state can protect people in the state from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” he explained.

Armijo said he does not believe the law would hold up in federal court. “This law takes peoples rights away to petition their local governments. In that sense, the Supreme Court has said this kind of state action is clearly unconstitutional under the equal protection clause.”

He pointed to a similar Colorado case from 1996. “In Romer vs. Evans, Colorado tried to amend its constitution to do much the same thing to prevent cities in Colorado from protecting people who are gay and lesbian from discrimination; the Supreme Court said states can not exercise their power to take away the rights of discriminated against groups to seek protection from discrimination from the cities in which they live.”

Opponents are also raising concerns that the law has other wide-sweeping concerns. One is that employees who believe they were fired because of discrimination would not be able to take their case to state court. It would have to go to federal court, which could be a longer and more expensive process.

In addition, questions were raised about how the law would affect local ordinances that aim to increase the living wage by implementing minimum wages above the state’s.

Governor Pat McCrory released a “Myths and Facts Sheet” about HB2.

In part, he said this bill does not affect companies in North Carolina despite recent statewide and national outcry. “For instance, if a privately-owned sporting facility wants to allow attendees of sporting events to use the restroom of their choice, or install unisex bathrooms, they can. The law neither requires nor prohibits them from doing so.”

McCrory’s office issued the following statement on the ACLU’s lawsuit on HB2:

“The governor respects the right of any legal challenges; however, he does not respect the continued distortion of the facts by the groups challenging this law and by many members of the state and national media,” said Graham Wilson, the governor’s press secretary.

“To counter a coordinated national effort to mislead the public, intimidate our business community and slander our great state, the governor will continue to set the record straight on a common sense resolution to local government overreach that imposed new regulations on businesses that intruded into the personal lives of our citizens. The non-discrimination policies in place today in cities like Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville and in every business in North Carolina are the same as they were last month and last year.

“Where was this coordinated outrage and media attention when the original bathroom ordinance was defeated in Charlotte just last year?

“The governor looks forward to cheering for the UNC Tar Heels in the NCAA Final Four being played in Houston, a city that defeated a similar bathroom ordinance referendum last year with over 61% of the vote.”

Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore issued a joint statement Monday in response to the lawsuit:

“While they’ve accused the state of disrespecting local control, the irony is far-left groups like the national ACLU, their out-of-state lawyers and Attorney General Roy Cooper want to use North Carolina as a pawn in their extreme agenda to force women and young girls to welcome grown men into their bathrooms and locker rooms nationwide.

“This lawsuit takes this debate out of the hands of voters and instead attempts to argue with a straight face that there is a previously undiscovered ‘right’ in the U.S. Constitution for men to use women's bathrooms and locker rooms – but we are confident the court will find the General Assembly acted properly in accordance with existing state and federal law."