Federal Judge Affirms North Carolina Transgender Restroom Rights
A federal judge approved a legal settlement Tuesday affirming transgender people’s right to use restrooms matching their gender identity in many North Carolina public buildings.
The consent decree between the state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, and transgender plaintiffs covers a wide range of state-owned buildings.
In return, the plaintiffs agreed to drop pending legal action against the governor and other defendants.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroader’s approval of the agreement ends a bruising three-year legal battle over a 2016 law, H.B.2, that required transgender people to use restrooms matching their birth certificates in state government buildings and other publicly owned structures including state universities.
That requirement was later rescinded, but a replacement law effectively put new antidiscrimination ordinances on hold through 2020.
The transgender North Carolinians who filed the original suit later amended it to take on the replacement law as well, saying it only created uncertainty over what bathrooms they could use and essentially voided local ordinances intended to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.
The agreement approved Tuesday states that North Carolina officials have no authority to “prevent transgender people from lawfully using public facilities in accordance with their gender identity.”
The agreement further says executive branch officials, such as the current and future governors, as well their employees at state agencies, are forbidden from using the current law “to bar, prohibit, block, deter, or impede any transgender individuals from using public facilities … in accordance with the transgender individual’s gender identity.”
Governor Cooper and the plaintiffs announced they’d reached a proposed settlement in late 2017. But state Republicans, including House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, who intervened in the case as defendants, urged Judge Schroader to reject the consent decree.
Among other things, they argued the proposed settlement could be interpreted as an overreach of the judiciary because it “purports to bind North Carolina State officers and agencies, in perpetuity, to a temporary political settlement.”
Schroeder responded in Tuesday’s order, saying nothing in the agreement limits the legislature’s ability to amend the replacement law or pass any other law.
Attorneys for the Republican lawmakers said Tuesday they are reviewing their options.
Joaquin Carcaño, the lead plaintiff in the case, said Tuesday that after “so many years of managing the anxiety of H.B.2 and fighting so hard, I am relieved that we finally have a court order to protect transgender people from being punished under these laws.”
“This is a tremendous victory but not a complete one,” Carcaño continued. “While I am glad that Governor Cooper agreed to this settlement, it remains devastating to know that local protections for LGBTQ people are still banned under state law while so many members of our community continue to face violence, harassment, and discrimination simply because of who we are. The fight for full justice will continue.”
In The News
A new law in New York State requires pharmacies to inform patients of Class I drug recalls made by the Federal Drug Administration within seven days. Generally speaking, drug recalls occur when the quality or safety of a drug has been compromised. It can be due... Read More
WASHINGTON - A circuit court judge in South Carolina heard more than two hours of oral arguments Friday in a lawsuit challenging the state GOP executive committee's vote last month to forgo a 2020 Republican presidential primary. In the end, Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman indicated her... Read More
The governors of five northeastern states came together for a summit on Thursday to discuss the outlines of a joint regional approach to cannabis and vaping policies. "This issue is complicated, controversial and consequential. It is probably one of the most challenging I've had to address... Read More
WASHINGTON - A House Panel that deals with water resource and environmental issues will travel to South Florida this weekend for a roundtable on infrastructure projects to be considered for inclusion in the next Water Resources Development Act. Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., chair of the House... Read More
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A deranged person in Florida can tell people of a plan to commit a mass shooting and still not face arrest — as long as the threat isn’t written down. It’s an oddity in state law that a school safety commission and... Read More
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Census Bureau wants even more details on American residents, requesting states to provide driver’s license and administrative records to add to a trove of federal data being collected by the agency in its census count. Officials plan to use the administrative records... Read More