Obama’s lawsuit against North Carolina isn’t about civil rights
Some of us care little about the debate over public bathrooms. We do, however, care about the ongoing destruction of federalism, individual choice and good-faith debate in America.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on Monday that the Department of Justice was filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and the University of North Carolina for passing the “controversial law” requiring transgender people to use public bathrooms matching their birth certificate. She had this to say:
“This is not the first time that we have seen discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress for our nation. We saw it in the Jim Crow laws that followed the Emancipation Proclamation. We saw it in fierce and widespread resistance to Brown v. Board of Education. And we saw it in the proliferation of state bans on same-sex unions intended to stifle any hope that gay and lesbian Americans might one day be afforded the right to marry.”
Likening a spat over biologically segregated male and female bathrooms to the genuinely violent, systematic, state-sponsored and society-wide bigotry that took place in this country for a century is both intellectually and morally corrupt.
For starters, the scale of these events is in no sense comparable. The Jim Crow laws passed by states and localities to enforce racial segregation stripped millions of African-Americans not only of their liberty, but their dignity. The state punished them for their skin color, and kept them uneducated and poor. They could not escape their situation without more government interference.
The present situation is significantly different and less dire in every possible sense. It is the sort of social problem generally worked out among people in this country without unelected civil rights commissions punishing business owners for thought crimes. Under North Carolina’s law, no private company is stopped from having its own desired bathroom setup.
North Carolina and other states have preemptively moved forward creating these kinds of bills to head off the federal government redefining gender. But it’s too late.
The fact is, at any point, the government can simply announce that a man can choose to be a woman and vice versa. This announcement would then compel everyone in the country to accept this reality. Yet there is currently no federal definition of what transgender is, other than self-identification, which can mean anything. Head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta says: “Transgender men are men. ... Transgender women are women.” So sayeth Gupta, so sayeth us all — or else. And now, 323 million people must adhere to the Obama administration’s relativistic notions of nature and gender.
In a broader sense, the suit is symbolic of the federal government’s eight-year crusade to decimate any semblance of federalism and streamline progressive morality. The administration ignores state laws that conflict with federal policy when it approves of the law, and it sues states when it does not. States that pass law-enforcement bills that President Obama finds unsatisfactory will see the full force of the Justice Department. Those states with drug-legalization laws and immigration laws he does like have nothing to worry about, even if the laws conflict with federal law.
Finally, it takes a special kind of audacity for someone working for President Obama — who was a pretend opponent of same-sex marriage for years — to accuse someone who stood against same sex couples’ “right to marry” of being a modern-day George Wallace. Not to mention the fact that Lynch was first appointed by President Bill Clinton, the man who not only signed The Defense of Marriage Act, but admired and learned his politics from real-life segregationists.
Such an indictment just adds a level of absurdity to these scurrilous attacks on people who are making good-faith arguments.
David Harsanyi, author of “The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy,” is a senior editor at The Federalist.