North Carolina Republicans are calling out federal Justice Department officials, saying they will openly defy a deadline to modify the state's HB2 "bathroom bill". At stake: billions of dollars in federal Title IX funding for state schools and universities as lawmakers face civil rights violations.
The Republican leaders of North Carolina’s General Assembly defiantly announced Thursday that they would not meet a Monday deadline to suspend or repeal a state law limiting bathroom access for transgender people, setting up a potential legal showdown over what has become one of the nation’s most explosive cultural issues.
“We will take no action by Monday,” said Tim Moore, the speaker of the State House of Representatives, referring to the deadline the Justice Department gave the state to tell federal officials whether the law would stand. “That deadline will come and go.”
Though Mr. Moore criticized the deadline as “unreasonable,” he also seemed to signal that Republicans might eventually agree to alter the law, which forbids people to use public building restrooms that do not match the gender listed on their birth certificates.
“The legislative process doesn’t work where a response can be given by just a few days,” he said, “so we’re going to move at the speed that we’re going to move at to look at what our options are at this point.”
His comments, as well as a private meeting later with a leading critic of the law, Mayor Jennifer Roberts of Charlotte, were indications that lawmakers here may be concerned about the potentially damaging consequences of keeping the law intact and defying the Justice Department.
The Obama administration contends that the law violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and its finding could push the federal government to withhold in federal aid.
The law puts more than $4.8 billion in federal funding to state and local governments at risk, according to a recent analysis by the Williams Institute, a research organization at the University of California, Los Angeles, law school that focuses on sexual orientation and gender identity law. The bulk of those losses would be from education funds, though the state could also lose money for career services, health care, housing and other purposes.
$5 billion is real money folks, and I'm not sure what's going to happen to my home state if the feds make good on this threat. This leverage is there for a reason, but ten million people in North Carolina are going to be hurt if this happens. That's $500 a person roughly, and that's not trivial, especially in the poorer parts of the Tarheel State.
Beyond that, the political fallout isn't going to be fun either. We'll see which side the voters blame for this, the Obama administration or GOP Gov. Pat McCrory and the NC GOP. A major court battle isn't out of the question either, so this could drag on for years, especially if McCrory wins re-election in November and voters keep the NC GOP in power.