A federal judge upheld House Bill 2's replacement last Sunday, but provided clarity for legal challenges moving forward.
HB142 states that all government agencies, including UNC System schools, are not allowed to regulate access to restrooms or changing facilities. Additionally, local governments may not enact their own anti-discrimination policies.
The ACLU has been creating and presenting their legal case against HB2 since the law was passed. After HB2 was repealed in March 2017, the ACLU added new grievances related to the ambiguity of the new legislation.
In the most recent case, a federal judge for North Carolina dismissed many elements of the case presented by the ACLU regarding the harm caused by the uncertainty of HB142. The judge ruled based on his belief that HB142 does not regulate bathroom access.
Mike Meno, the communications director for the N.C. ACLU, said they challenged the law because it was vague and people were interpreting it as a rewrite of HB2.
"What yesterday’s ruling did was for the first time, we had a federal court say what the law meant," Meno said. "So it was very important to have a federal court say that HB142 does not bar transgender people from using facilities that match their gender identity. It brought very important clarity to that issue.”
N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger declined to comment. His office said the Senator hasn't had time to review the ruling because he is working on Hurricane Florence relief in the legislature.
However, this ruling is not the end for civil rights and civil liberties groups.
Despite the court's dismissal of certain elements of the ACLU's case, the federal judge said he would allow the group's challenge to the law's ban on local LGBT nondiscrimination policies to go forward.
"The bottom line is that LGBT people in North Carolina deserve to feel secure in knowing that when they go about their daily lives, when they go to businesses, when they go to institutions, that they feel protected and know that any discrimination they counter is not acceptable," Meno said.
It is unknown whether the N.C. General Assembly will attempt to pass another similar law in the wake of any repeal of all laws regulating bathroom access for transgender people. HB2 cost North Carolina approximately $3.76 billion, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Eighteen other states have attempted to or are considering passing laws that restrict bathroom access based on biological sex, preempt local discrimination laws or limit transgender student’s rights.
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