North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has filed a lawsuit against the federal government after the United States Department of Justice sent an ultimatum last week that attempted to coerce the state government into dropping its new and controversial transgender bathroom law.
On Monday, McCrory, a Republican, and North Carolina Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry filed a declaratory judgement action, which asks federal courts to clarify whether the Obama administration's interpretation of Title VII and Title IX of U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 is consistent with federal law.
The filing of the lawsuit comes on the same day as the state's deadline to explain to the federal agency whether or not it plans to scrub its recently passed law that prohibits transgender individuals from using state-run bathrooms and changing areas designated for the opposite biological sex.
The law also protects the rights of businesses and other places of public accommodation to create their own bathroom policies, rather than be forced to allow men into women's restrooms.
The department sent a letter to McCrory last Wednesday, arguing that preventing transgender individuals from using the restrooms and changing areas designated for the sex in which they identify is "discrimination" because non-transgender people are allowed to use the bathrooms and changing areas designated for the sex in which they identify.
The state sent a request on Friday for the Department of Justice to provide more time for the state to respond to the letter's demands. However, that request was denied unless the state agreed to "unrealistic" terms, a press release states.
"The Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set restroom policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina," McCrory said in a statement Monday morning.
"This is now a national issue that applies to every state and it needs to be resolved at the federal level," McCrory added. "They are now telling every government agency and every company that employs more than 15 people that men should be allowed to use a women's locker room, restroom or shower facility."
In his legal filing, McCrory explained that he has instructed state agencies to reasonably accommodate the use of single occupancy restrooms for those who don't feel comfortable using restrooms designated for their biological sex.
"I'm taking this initiative to ensure that North Carolina continues to receive federal funding until the courts resolve this issue," said Governor McCrory.
McCrory told Fox News on Sunday that the Department of Justice would have granted the state more time, but only if he publicly called the state's law discriminatory.
"I'm not going to publicly announce that something discriminates, which is agreeing with their letter, because we're really talking about a letter in which they're trying to define gender identity," McCrory said in the interview. "And there is no clear identification or definition of gender identity. It's the federal government being a bully."
"I don't think that three working days is enough time for such a pretty big threat," McCrory added. "It's the federal government being a bully, making law."
North Carolina faces the risk of losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal education funding that could hurt the state's university system, CNN reports. The Justice Department also sent the same ultimatum letter to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and was also given a Monday deadline.