On Friday, August 26 a federal judge ruled that HB2 could not be enforced on two UNC students and an employee, as a result of an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)-represented lawsuit.
Appointed by then-President George W. Bush in 2008, US Middle District Court Article III Judge Thomas Schroeder’s ruled in favor of a temporary injunction against HB2. The ruling will be in effect until November, when the case goes to larger trial. His final HB2 decision will follow that date.
Schroeder noted that challenges would likely prevail over the law, which is being challenged on Title IX grounds by the NC ACLU. He also stated that the ‘common sense’ aspect put forward by HB2’s proponents was without grounds, and that other laws provided the same protections.
“North Carolina’s peeping and indecent exposure statutes continue to protect the privacy of citizens regardless of Part I,” Schroeder wrote in his 83-page ruling, “There is no indication that a sexual predator could successfully claim transgender status as a defense against prosecution under these statutes.”
Schroeder, despite ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, expressed doubts over the alleged constitutional rights grounds of their suit.
“At this preliminary stage, and in light of existing case law,” Schroeder wrote, “Plaintiffs have not made a clear showing that they are likely to succeed on their Equal Protection claim.”
The NC ACLU responded positively to the ruling, praising the ruling and expressing optimism for their lawsuit’s future.
“We are thrilled that H.B. 2 is starting to crumble and relieved for our clients who have had a huge burden lifted as a result of the court’s Friday ruling,” NC ACLU Legal Director Chris Brook stated, as quoted in an NC ACLU article. “But we know the harmful effects of H.B. 2 are far reaching, and that is why we are seeking broader relief for the thousands of transgender people who call North Carolina home.”
Others expressed negative reactions to Schroeder’s ruling, criticizing it for going against similar rulings in other states and the ‘common sense’ purpose of HB2.
“Judge Schroeder has made a very narrow ruling by suspending enforcement of HB2’s bathroom provisions only for the three UNC transgender student and faculty plaintiffs,” NC Values Coalition Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald wrote in a statement. “This decision is at odds with a Texas judge’s ruling earlier in the week that enjoined nationwide the Obama Administration’s mandate forcing public schools to allow boys into girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers.”
“It is a shame that Attorney General Roy Cooper has failed to do his job,” Fitzgerald’s statement continued, “and defend the State’s common sense law that protects the privacy and safety of both boys and girls alike.”
UNC Greensboro Chancellor Franklin Gilliam issued a statement on the ruling on Monday, August 29. Within he reaffirmed UNCG’s professed commitment to tolerance and diversity.
“We have consistently maintained that HB2 does not change our existing equal opportunity and nondiscrimination policies,” Gilliam stated. “We are committed to protecting our Spartan community from discrimination on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status. Respect and tolerance are among the most important values that define what it means to be a Spartan.”
HB2’s next trial is set for November 14, 2016, and will also be presided over by Schroeder.