The Department of Justice on Friday dropped its lawsuit against the state of North Carolina over a law that targeted transgender people’s use of bathrooms. The Obama administration had alleged the state violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex. In court filings last year, the department’s Civil Rights Division argued the federal rights law encompassed transgender discrimination as well.
The latest move by the Trump administration comes weeks after North Carolina lawmakers repealed a portion of the state’s law that explicitly banned many transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identity in government facilities. Yet despite the law’s partial repeal, criticism of the North Carolina law persists, as does another lawsuit from private citizens. When state lawmakers this month repealed one part of the law, known as HB2, they kept another portion intact and added a new provision.
The current policy bans local LGBT rights ordinances until 2020, and it prohibits local governments permanently from affirming that transgender people may use restrooms that match their gender identity. Critics argue this still allows discrimination against LGBT people, in particular barring transgender from participating in public life. “This is yet another example of the Trump administration abandoning and targeting the LGBT community and particularly the trans community,” said Chase Strangio, a lawyer for the ACLU, which is also suing North Carolina over the policy.
“The reality on the ground in North Carolina is that there has been no repeal of HB2 and our community remains targeted in both rhetoric and law. ” North Carolina joined the Trump administration in moving to dismiss the case on Friday. Officials from the Justice Department declined to comment on the thinking behind their latest move.
The North Carolina governor’s office did not immediately respond to questions from BuzzFeed News. This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.