Commentary

Judge blocks UNC from enforcing HB2 while trial proceeds

Here’s the statement from the ACLU of NC on Judge Thomas Schroeder’s ruling this afternoon enjoining the University of North Carolina from enforcing HB2:

A federal court today granted a request to stop the University of North Carolina from enforcing H.B. 2, the state law that bans many transgender people from restrooms that match their gender identity, against three transgender individuals who are challenging the law in court. In granting the preliminary injunction, the court found that the challengers are likely to succeed in their argument that the law violates Title IX.

The groups that brought the motion seeking preliminary relief, American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal, and the law firm of Jenner & Block are challenging the law on behalf of several LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina. They filed the motion for preliminary injunction while the case proceeds through the court system.

“Today is a great day for me and hopefully this is the start to chipping away at the injustice of H.B. 2 that is harming thousands of other transgender people who call North Carolina home. Today, the tightness that I have felt in my chest every day since H.B. 2 passed has eased. But the fight is not over: we won’t rest until this discriminatory law is defeated,” said Joaquín Carcaño, lead plaintiff in the case.

“We are thrilled that the court put a temporary stop to some of the grave harm H.B. 2 imposes on our transgender clients,” said Tara Borelli, Lambda Legal senior attorney. “This ruling is an important first step to make sure that thousands of LGBT people who call North Carolina home – particularly transgender people – get the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. As we prepare for trial, we are more determined than ever to ensure equal justice for all North Carolinians.”

The full trial in the groups’ challenge to H.B. 2 is scheduled to begin on November 14. During the trial, the court will also consider challenges to sections of H.B. 2 that prohibit local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people.

“We’re thrilled that the court ruled on the right side for our clients today and that our clients are one step closer to being free from the discrimination that this harmful law imposes on them simply because they are transgender,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “We’re confident justice will prevail in the larger case after the judge hears all the evidence at trial this fall so that all gay and transgender North Carolinians will be free from the harm of H.B. 2.”

The ACLU and Lambda Legal lawsuit, Carcaño v. McCrory, was filed days after H.B. 2 was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory. In the lawsuit, the groups argue that through the law, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state.

The complaint argues that H.B. 2 violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.  It also argues the law is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and violates the privacy and medical decision making rights of transgender people.

To read more about the case: https://www.aclu.org/cases/carcano-et-al-v-mccrory-et-al.

No word yet if Governor McCrory, Senator Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore will decry the ruling as the work of an unelected Republican judge.

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