When North Carolina passed its version of the bathroom bill previous year, many Texas lawmakers - most notably Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick - practically salivated over the prospect of passing similar legislation in the Lone Star State.
The Department of Justice on Friday announced that it has voluntarily withdrawn a lawsuit challenging North Carolina's controversial House Bill 2. "Instead, it doubles-down on discrimination".
Justice attorneys cited in the one-page notice that House Bill 142, which effectively repealed HB2, was the reason behind the dismissal.
Texas' anti-transgender bill has seemingly stalled, but inspired by North Carolina, Republican state lawmakers have a new plan to expand discrimination against LGBT people.
A number of businesses and sports leagues boycotted North Carolina because they saw the year-old law as discriminatory against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
HB2 had been decried as an "unprecedented attack on the LGBT community, in particular against transgender people", which sparked protests and boycotts, and took a significant economic toll on the state. The law still prohibits local municipalities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances related to private employment practices or regulating public accommodations until 2020. The NCAA also refused to schedule games in North Carolina as a result of the bills passing.
Federal law protects against discrimination on basis of "race, color, religion, or national origin, or sex", but does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. That would eliminate non-discrimination ordinances already in place in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Piano and San Antonio, according to the Human Rights Campaign's 2016 Municipal Index.
The North Carolina mayors in their letter, released Friday, said that even though they do not have the same authority as the state General Assembly, their cities "remain safe, welcoming places for all people".
Jon W. Davidson, legal director at Lambda Legal, said in a statement that the Trump administration and Sessions were using the "fake repeal of HB2 as cover" to withdraw the government's support for transgender people.
And Tara Borelli, a lawyer for Lambda Legal, said her group's federal suit remains active. HB142 was unconstitutional the moment it was enacted.
Legal experts said that the case had the potential to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. "We don't think the courts will have any trouble seeing that, regardless of who's sitting at counsel's table". The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered both sides to file new arguments by late April.