North Carolina governor Pat McCrory filed a lawsuit Monday against the United States Justice Department, asking a federal court to rule that its so-called "bathroom law" is not discriminatory.
In his complaint, McCrory, R, accused the federal government of "baseless and blatant overreach."
"The Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set restroom policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina," McCrory said in a related statement. "This is now a national issue that applies to every state and it needs to be resolved at the federal level."
McCrory, who was to address the media at 1 p.m. Monday, had previously said that he would respond to the Justice Department's request that he abandon the law, which bans transgender people from using bathrooms that don't match the gender on their birth certificates.
McCrory said he had asked federal officials to push back its "unrealistic" Monday deadline but was told he could only get more time if he publicly called the bathroom law discriminatory.
"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," McCrory said in an interview Sunday with Fox News. "And there is no clear identification or definition of gender identity. It's the federal government being a bully."
In a letter last week from Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, federal officials said that North Carolina's law violates federal civil rights law.
The letter gave McCrory until the close of business Monday to say whether the state "will not comply with or implement" the measure and told state employees that "consistent with federal law, they are permitted to access bathrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity."
Federal officials have said that if no changes were made by the deadline, they were prepared to file a lawsuit or potentially strip the state of some federal funding.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Mark Berman covers national news for The Washington Post and anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.
Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Mark Berman, Niraj Chokshi · NATIONAL · May 09, 2016 - 10:12 AM