Protesters rally Oct. 8 in front of the Supreme Court as it hears arguments on whether gay and transgender people are covered by a federal law barring employment discrimination on the basis of sex. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images)
The United States Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision Monday that federal law protects LGBT and transgender employees from discrimination.
Justices Neil Gorsuch and John Roberts joined the court’s four liberal judges in a landmark ruling that involved a 1964 civil rights law that barred discrimination of employees based on sex, according to USA Today. The Supreme Court had examined whether the statutory protections should be understood to include both sexual orientation and gender identity.
Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh all dissented, the publication reported.
“Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result,” Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion, adding:
Likely, they weren’t thinking about many of the Act’s consequences that have become apparent over the years, including its prohibition against discrimination on the basis of motherhood or its ban on the sexual harassment of male employees.
But the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands. When the express terms of a statute give us one answer and extratextual considerations suggest another, it’s no contest. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit.
Kavanaugh said in his dissenting opinion that “in the face of the unsuccessful legislative efforts (so far) to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, judges may not rewrite the law simply because of their own policy views.”
“Notwithstanding my concern about the Court’s transgression of the Constitution’s separation of powers, it is appropriate to acknowledge the important victory achieved today by gay and lesbian Americans,” Kavanaugh wrote in his dissent:
Millions of gay and lesbian Americans have worked hard for many decades to achieve equal treatment in fact and in law. They have exhibited extraordinary vision, tenacity, and grit—battling often steep odds in the legislative and judicial arenas, not to mention in their daily lives.
They have advanced powerful policy arguments and can take pride in today’s result. Under the Constitution’s separation of powers, however, I believe that it was Congress’s role, not this Court’s, to amend Title VII.
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Mary Margaret Olohan is a reporter covering social issues for The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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