Law professor threatens lawsuit over inauguration toilets

With inauguration crowds expected to exceed 1 million people and only 5,000 portable toilets on the Mall to accommodate them, a GW Law professor is threatening legal consequences for what he coined as the “potty parity.”

John Banzhaf, a public interest law professor at GW, sent a legal notice to the Presidential Inaugural Committee on Tuesday warning that the standard practice of designating portable toilets by gender, with the same number available to each sex, will create unfair waits for women and makes the committee vulnerable to sexual discrimination lawsuits.

“Women take longer than men to use the restroom,” Banzaf said. “Having the same number of facilities for men and women does not gather equal results. Failure to equalize this disparate treatment might rise to sexual discrimination suits.”

Banzhaf said the sheer inadequacy of available toilet facilities is another issue, considering the massive expected size of the crowds.

The toilet campaign has now been reported in a variety of major media outlets, especially after being posted at the top of the Drudge Report Web site on Tuesday afternoon.

The law professor also warned President-elect Barack Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that creating a “potty parity” will open them up for embarrassment.

“This disparate impact on women could cause public outrage since it occurs during the inauguration of a president pledged to respect women’s rights and our first female House speaker, and trigger even potential legal liability under federal sex discrimination laws and the U.S. Constitution,” Banzhaf said.

Questions as to whether or not there will be enough restrooms on the National Mall to accommodate the inauguration week crowds have been brought up before, but Banzhaf said a lack of portable toilets is not main the issue.

“Solving the potty parity is simple,” Banzhaf said. “Don’t sex-designate them. We are all used to using same restroom on trains, planes and buses. Why is the inauguration any different?”

Banzhaf has become well known as a legal activist in recent years and famously sued McDonald’s for causing childhood obesity before being featured in the 2004 film “Super Size Me.”

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