North Carolina’s restriction of civil rights goes beyond facility access
North Carolina’s newly enacted law, often referred to as HB2, has received nationwide attention primarily because of its requirement that transgender people use the bathroom corresponding to their purported biological identity rather than their actual gender identity. United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch has publicly and emphatically condemned the legislation as “state-sponsored discrimination.” Subsequently, the United States Department of Justice commenced litigation against the Governor of North Carolina and other State officials for adopting the controversial law.
North Carolina’s legislation, however, goes further than restricting access to facilities. In particular, the new law bars cities from adopting or expanding their own anti-discrimination laws. North Carolina’s legislative action also prohibits cities from raising minimum-wage levels above the State level, something cities across the country are now doing given the undue influence over State legislatures by the American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”) and related special interests. As discussed previously here, ALEC and affiliated organizations have shaped, if not literally written, State laws around the country to the benefit of corporations rather than the general public.
Despite North Carolina’s new legislation, the fight against discrimination and unfair wages continues. In fact, the legal developments in North Carolina have reinvigorated a broad-based movement for social and economic justice perhaps best illustrated by Moral Mondays – which began in North Carolina and have since extended to other States.