North Carolina officials sue US Justice Dept over challenge to bathroom law

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Deadline Day for North Carolina on Bathroom Law

North Carolina officials sued the U.S. Justice Department on Monday after the department challenged the state's law on public restroom access for transgender people, accusing the agency of "baseless and blatant overreach."

The department's top civil rights lawyer, Vanita Gupta, last week sent three letters to North Carolina officials, saying the law was a civil rights violation.

It is the newest chapter of a fast-evolving fight over rights for transgender Americans. The law, which went into effect in March, requires transgender people to use public bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate.

RELATED: Protests in response to N.C.'s transgender bathroom law

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North Carolina officials sue US Justice Dept over challenge to bathroom law
DURHAM, NC - MAY 10: The 'We Are Not This' slogan is posted at the entrances to Bull McCabes Irish Pub on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 (HB2) that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Elaine Martin, right, listens as Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
Joaquin Carcano, center, the lead plaintiff in the case, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. Joaquin was born a woman and is now a man. Simone Bell with Lambda Law is at left; Chris Brook with the ACLU is at right. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
TO GO AFP STORY BY BRIGITTE DUSSEAU - Transgender delegates Jamie Shier (L) and Janice Covington pose for photographs at the Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 4, 2012. The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that US President Barack Obama would move his acceptance speech from the outdoor Bank of America Stadium to the indoor Time Warner Cable Arena due to predictions of thunderstorms. AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read BRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)
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North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and the state's secretary of public safety sued Gupta as well as U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch for their "radical reinterpretation" of federal civil rights law in federal district court in North Carolina.

Justice Department officials declined to comment on Monday.

If the state does not pull back from implementing the first-of-its-kind statute on Monday, it could face a federal lawsuit, according to the Justice Department letters.

McCrory said in a Sunday interview with Fox News that he had asked the department to extend the Monday deadline, but was told that he could only have the extension if he would admit that the law was discriminatory.

"I'm not going to publicly announce that something discriminates, which is agreeing with their letter," he said in the interview.

The department declined to say whether it would take legal action if the state stands by the law, but the letters suggest it is willing to do so, setting the stage for a potentially costly court fight over an issue that has already sparked several boycotts against the state.

McCrory will speak to the media on Monday at 1 p.m. (1700 GMT).

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