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UNC Board Wants N.C. A.G. to Pay Legal Fees to Fight HB 2

UNC Board Wants N.C. A.G. to Pay Legal Fees to Fight HB 2

lou bissette

The University of North Carolina system has hired three attorneys to defend it in lawsuits over HB 2 and it hoping the attorney general's office will cover all legal fees for the institution.

The University of North Carolina system's Board of Governors voted Friday to write Attorney General Roy Cooper requesting that his office cover all legal fees the system will incur fighting lawsuits over House Bill 2, an anti-LGBT law that prohibits transgender people from using public restrooms or locker rooms that match their gender identity, if those are located in government buildings, including the university campuses.

The sysem hired three lawyers to defend it in existing lawsuits and any others. The Democratic attorney general has previously declined to defend Gov. Pat McCrory, UNC system president Margaret Spellings, and the Board of Governors in lawsuits brought by the federal goverment and the American Civil Liberties Union because he considers HB 2 discriminatory, reports The Charlotte Observer.

HB 2, introduced and signed into law in less than 12 hours during a special legislative session March 23, also rescinds all existing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, prohibits new ones, bars residents from suing for discrimination in state court, and bars cities from setting a minimum wage higher than the state's.

Dealing with the lawsuits "is a serious matter," board chairman Lou Bissette told the Observer. "It will be extremely expensive. If we find a way out of this lawsuit, it will be cheaper. If it continues, the sky would be the limit."

The board is requesting that the attorney general's office provide "150 percent of legal fees, which would have included punitive damages," reports the Observer. The attorney general has 60 days to respond to the request from the board. If the request is denied, the board may ask the General Assembly to "intervene and use its budgetary power to collect the funds," according to the paper.

The attorney general's office sent an initial response to the board via email Friday, indicating it may not be agreeable to covering the costs. "The Attorney General would encourage the UNC Board of Governors to help fight HB2 by urging the governor and legislature to repeal the law which would quickly solve the problem," wrote Samantha Cole, an assistant to the attorney general.

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