U.S. Supreme Court Divided Over Gay, Transgender Employment Protection

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U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday appeared divided over whether a landmark decades-old federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in the workplace protects gay and transgender employees as they heard arguments in one of the biggest cases of their current term.

The four liberal justices on the nine-member court signaled sympathy toward arguments that LGBT workers are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as race, color, national origin and religion.

Some of the five conservative justices expressed reservations toward extending protection to gay employees. However, one of them, Justice Neil Gorsuch, asked questions of both sides indicating potential sympathy for the workers. When analyzing whether a person was fired on the basis of sexual orientation, Gorsuch said sex seemed to be a “contributing cause.”

But Gorsuch later in the arguments voiced concern that the court would be overstepping its role if it ruled in favor of gay and transgender workers instead of letting Congress legislate on the subject. Gorsuch warned of “massive social upheaval” that could result from such a ruling.

“It’s a question of judicial modesty,” Gorsuch said. – READ MORE

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