A federal court issued an injunction Friday against the University of North Carolina, preventing it from enforcing House Bill 2 on the grounds that the legislation likely violates federal Title IX regulations.
House Bill 2—which was passed March 23—came in response to a February ordinance passed in Charlotte creating anti-discrimination provisions for LGBTQ+ customers at private businesses and allowing transgender residents to use the bathroom of the gender they identified with. The bill revoked that ordinance and restricted bathroom use to a person’s “biological sex.” It also banned local governments from creating their own anti-discrimination policies.
The bill’s passage has led to national backlash. Numerous businesses have canceled plans to expand into North Carolina because of the law. PayPal announced April 4 that it would no longer be moving its global operations center to Charlotte. Two companies, Red Ventures and Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, have similarly begun re-evaluating their expansion into North Carolina. Deutsche Bank likewise announced it would freeze its plan to move 250 jobs to Cary, and the National Basketball Association relocated the All-Star Game from Charlotte in response.
However, district judge Thomas Schroeder issued a preliminary injunction Friday. In his decision, he wrote that UNC can not enforce the bathroom-related “biological sex” portions of the legislation against multiple transgender plaintiffs who had sued Governor Pat McCrory and other state officials. The injunction is in place until a fuller trial on the merits of the law begins Nov. 14.
Plaintiffs made several claims against the legislation—that it violates Title IX law, that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and that it violates due process. Schroeder issued the injunction on Title IX grounds only, writing that the plaintiffs “are likely to succeed on their claim that Part I violates Title IX” and that plaintiffs will “suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief.”
Schroeder denied the Equal Protection claims and did not issue a ruling on the due process claims. The injunction still stands, however, despite only being issued on one of the three arguments presented.
“It is important to emphasize that this injunction returns the parties to the status quo ante as it existed in Title IX facilities prior to Part I’s passage in March 2016,” he wrote. “On the current record, there is no reason to believe that a return to the status quo ante pending a trial on the merits will compromise the important State interests asserted.”
During the trial Nov. 14 the court will also consider challenges to other sections of the law, like those prohibiting local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ+ residents.
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