North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper on Tuesday said his office won’t defend North Carolina's House Bill 2, the controversial legislation approved by state lawmakers and signed by Governor Pat McCrory in a single day last week. During a news conference in Raleigh, carried by WRAL-TV, Cooper added that the law is in “direct conflict” with existing non-discrimination policies on hiring in his office and the state treasurer’s office.
"Part of our argument will be that House Bill 2 is unconstitutional," Cooper said. "Therefore, our office will not represent the defendants in this lawsuit nor future lawsuits involving the constitutionality of House Bill 2," the attorney general added.
Cooper also called the new statewide law a “national embarrassment” and said it will be a setback to North Carolina's economy. He urged legislators and Governor McCrory to repeal the measure.
Last week’s special session of the Republican-led General Assembly was aimed at overriding a recently-approved City of Charlotte ordinance that, among other things, would have allowed transgender individuals to use the restroom that matches their gender identity.
Cooper's announcement came one day after LGBT advocates filed a federal court lawsuit aimed at overturning the new statewide law. During Tuesday's news conference, Cooper said that while his office has defended what he called “bad legislation” in the past, he said the non-discrimination measure a “unique and different” situation.
The attorney general, who is running for governor this year, said refusing to defend the new law is the right choice. "This is the choice that I think moves the state of North Carolina forward," Cooper said.
NC Senate leader Phil Berger responded to Cooper's announcement by saying the attorney general should resign if he won't defend the measure approved last week. Berger added that Cooper appears to be pandering to left-wing backers as he runs for governor against incumbent Republican Pat McCrory.
Listen to news conference carried by WRAL-TV with North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, discussing NC House Bill 2.