Officials in North Carolina filed a lawsuit Monday against the Department of Justice over the feds' demand that the state not implement its controversial LGBT law or risk losing federal funds.
The Justice Department had set a deadline of Monday for Gov. Pat McCrory to report whether he would refuse to enforce the last that took effect in March. McCrory's defiance could lead to a protracted legal battle.
McCrory's lawsuit, filed in federal court in North Carolina, asks a judge to block Justice Department action that could threaten billions of dollars in federal money flowing to the state.
"This is an attempt to unilaterally rewrite long-established federal civil rights laws in a manner that is wholly inconsistent with the intent of Congress and disregards decades of statutory interpretation by the courts," the lawsuit said.
In a statement, McCrory said: "The Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set restroom policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina. This is now a national issue that applies to every state and it needs to be resolved at the federal level. They are now telling every government agency and every company that employs more than 15 people that men should be allowed to use a women's locker room, restroom or shower facility."
In his filing, McCrory cited the fact that he has directed state agencies to make a reasonable accommodation of a single occupancy restroom. The state also allows private companies to set their own policies for bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities.
"I'm taking this initiative to ensure that North Carolina continues to receive federal funding until the courts resolve this issue," McCrory said in the release.
McCrory will provide an additional statement to the media at 1 p.m. on Monday.
McCrory and other state officials have been under pressure since the U.S. Justice Department warned last week that the law -- known as HB2 -- passed in March violates civil rights protections against sex discrimination on the job and in education for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
In letters, federal civil rights enforcement attorneys focused particularly on provisionsrequiring transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond to their biological sex. A federal lawsuit against the state is possible, the Justice Department said.
"It's the federal government being a bully. It's making law," McCrory said on "Fox News Sunday." The Justice Department is "trying to define gender identity, and there is no clear identification or definition of gender identity."
Last week, McCrory called the Justice Department's threat a broad overreach of federal authority. "This is no longer just a North Carolina issue because this conclusion by the Department of Justice impacts every state," McCrory said.