NC Gov. on DOJ Bathroom Mandate: 'It's the Federal Government Being a Bully'

By Susan Jones | May 9, 2016 | 6:08am EDT
In this May 4, 2016, file photo, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory makes remarks concerning House Bill 2 in Raleigh, N.C. McCrory shows no signs of backing down in the face of the federal government’s Monday, May 9, deadline to declare he won’t enforce the new state law. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

( - Today (Monday) is the deadline for North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to respond to a Justice Department letter warning him that the law passed by the state legislature in March -- requiring people to use the restroom that corresponds with the sex listed on their birth certificate -- violates federal civil rights law, which protects "gender identity."

McCrory on Sunday said that three days is not enough time to respond, but the Justice Department has refused his request for a week-long extension unless McCrory admits publicly that the law does in fact discriminate.

"Well, 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. And there is no clear identification or definition of gender identity," McCrory told "Fox News Sunday."

"It's the federal government being a -- a bully. It's making law...and by their interpretation."

Host Chris Wallace noted that the DOJ letter requires McCrory to decide whether he's going to disavow the duly enacted law: "So what are you going to do?" Wallace asked him.

"Well, first of all, I don't have the authority to change the law as governor," McCrory responded. He noted that the North Carolina legislature enacted the law, so the Justice Department is setting an "unrealistic expectation" in asking the governor not to enforce it.

"And second, they've (DOJ) also sent a letter to our (state) universities, and our university by state law has to go to the board of governors, which cannot meet until Tuesday. So this unrealistic deadline by the federal government is quite amazing to the ninth largest state, but I'll make a decision within the next 24 hours on how to respond to them. I - I believe I have until 5:00 tomorrow (Monday)."

"I'm discussing all of our legal options, all of our political options, because, frankly, there are two ways the federal government can determine this. One is, is a bathroom policy determined by the Congress and signed by the president, or a dictate from a regulatory agency in the United States federal government? And that's the way it is right now."

McCrory said the controversial bathroom law is not just an issue for North Carolina: "This order, this letter by the Justice Department, is saying that every company in the United States of America that has over 15 employees are going to have to abide by the federal government's regulation on bathrooms.

"So now the federal government is going to tell almost every private sector company in the United States who can and who cannot come into their bathrooms, their restrooms, their shower facilities for their employees, and they're also telling every university in the United States of America. This is not just North Carolina. They are now telling every university that accepts federal funding that boys who may think they're a girl can go into a girls' locker room or restroom or shower facility. And that begins, I assume, tomorrow."

Wallace asked McCrory if it would be "overreach" for the Justice Department to tell the states they "cannot have bathrooms in the state capital, one for white and one for black?"

"I don't think there's any correlation between the two, and I think it's misleading," McCrory responded. "We can definitely define the race of people. It's very hard to define transgender or gender -- gender identity."

McCrory said federal law uses the term "sex," and "Congress does not define 'sex' as including gender identity or other terms that the Justice Department has currently used. So right now, the Justice Department is making law for the federal government as opposed to enforcing law."

Title IX of the Civil Rights Act bars discrimination based on sex.

"It sounds like basically you're going to challenge this in court?" Wallace asked McCrory.

"We're looking at all our options right now, but we also want to get feedback from the business community throughout the nation that's going to be impacted by this and all universities throughout the nation that are impacted by this.

"But we're literally talking about billions of dollars now, if it is challenged. I assume there's no way -- I'm not going to risk any money for the state of North Carolina."

McCrory said the U.S. Transportation Department is examining whether it can withhold federal highway funding for North Carolina because of the new law. And he accused PayPal of "selective hypocrisy and selective outrage" for backing out of a operations center in North Carolina that would have created 400 jobs.

"This is the same PayPal company that did business in Sudan, did business in Iran, did business in Saudi Arabia and they're lecturing North Carolina because the majority of North Carolinians, I believe, think a man who's a man ought to use the restroom that is on the door. And same thing applies to women. And this is especially true in our schools, in our junior highs, in our high schools."

McCrory said both men and women have "an expectation of privacy" when they go into a restroom or locker room with the word "men" or "women" on the door.

"That's been an expectation of privacy that all of us have had for years." He said the Obama administration is now "trying to change that norm.

"Again, not just in North Carolina, but they're ordering this to every company in the United States of America, starting tomorrow, I assume, or Tuesday, and also making this an order for every university in the United States of America."

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