Federal Government HB2 Threat 'First Step' In Potentially Longer Process
On Thursday, the Speaker of the North Carolina House said the state won’t make any changes to the controversial HB2, despite pressure from the U.S. Justice Department to repeal a part of the law by Monday that regulates bathroom use for transgender people.
If the state does not comply, it could be at risk of losing potentially billions of dollars in school funding.
But Wake Forest University political science professor John Dinan says that's not likely to happen. What's more likely, he says, is that this will kick off a process that will lead to further discussions and possible agreements.
"The Justice Department issued a similar letter to a Chicago area school district and said ‘we’re requiring you to provide this accommodation for a transgender student in regard to locker room access," says Dinan. "That letter came down and a month later the Justice Department and the school district reached an agreement, a settlement, that generally acquiesced to the Justice Department, not in all respects. That one took a month so to work that out."
According to Dinan, a threat to cut funding is one tool the federal government can use. It also can seek a court order to stop state officials from enforcing the law.
HB2 is broad bill that goes beyond the transgender bathroom use provision. Dinan says the Justice Department's letter is specific to that aspect because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has already mandated that public employees and students at schools that receive federal funding should be able to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
Other parts of HB2 which impact labor laws, minimum wage, and the right to sue over discrimination in state court would not be impacted.