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ACLU: 'Unconstitutional' laws costing Tennessee taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars

One of the new laws would force businesses to post signs if they allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice.

NASHVILLE, Tenn — It could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight lawsuits against new Tennessee laws that some are calling "unconstitutional," according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Several new laws went into effect this week. One of those laws would force businesses to post signs if they allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice.

Some of the businesses filing the suit include Fido, Curb Records, and Bongo Productions.

“They can’t force individuals to carry the government’s message on politically-charged issues,” Thomas Castelli said. He’s the legal director for the ACLU of Tennessee, the entity representing businesses in court.

Castelli said the ACLU alone filed lawsuits against several hot topics, including the abortion ban, voucher law, and other bills in recent years -- each one potentially taking years.

“Attorneys are not cheap, so that can be a pretty significant price day, depending on how long the case goes on,” Castelli said.

As much as $100,000 per lawsuit, he said, on the low side.

Plus, not all of the laws will be enforced. Attorney General Glenn Funk has said he won’t enforce the new transgender sign bill, calling it “dehumanizing.”

FOX 17 News reached out to the governor’s team to ask about the benefit of signing a law that won’t be enforced. We also reached out to Funk’s office and other state leaders mentioned as defendants in the lawsuit.

Most said they couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Our team submitted a public records request to the state asking for a total cost of fighting legal battles against what the ACLU calls “unconstitutional” laws passed over the last couple of years. We are waiting to hear back.

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