As North Carolina lawmakers dig in their heels and refuse to repeal or amend the more egregious parts of their HB 2 law, they’re racking up legal bills that could eventually be passed on to North Carolina taxpayers. So much for fiscal conservatism.
According to an analysis by the Associated Press, defending HB 2 has cost the state more than $176,000 so far. Approximately $129,000 of that has gone to law firms in Washington, D.C. and Charlotte, and $47,000 has gone to Gov. Pat McCrory’s lawyers. The total amount is likely to rise, as not all of the law firms working on the case have submitted invoices for services rendered.
Realizing that the legal costs could mount, Republican state lawmakers previously agreed to take $500,000 meant to be earmarked for disaster relief and give it to McCrory’s office to help him defend HB 2.
A flurry of back-and-forth lawsuits are being waged over the law, which prohibits transgender people from using the restroom corresponding to their gender identity and bans localities from passing pro-LGBT ordinances. A coalition of civil liberties and LGBT groups is suing the state, arguing the law is unconstitutional. The Justice Department is suing the state in a separate lawsuit, saying HB 2 violates federal civil rights law. The state is also suing the federal government, saying protections against sex discrimination do not and should not apply to transgender individuals.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder is expected to begin trials on up to four of those lawsuits on Nov. 14. Prior to that, he will hear arguments on Aug. 1 from those seeking to stop North Carolina from enforcing HB 2 while it is being challenged in court.
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