WASHINGTON, D.C. — This promises to be an interesting session of the United States Supreme Court. The session just began on Monday and already Tuesday they heard arguments on three gay rights cases.
Two men say they were fired from their jobs because they are gay, and a transsexual person also says she lost her job when she transitioned from a man to a woman.
Phil Kronebusch is a Political Science Professor at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. He says in several states employers can legally fire someone based on their sexual orientation.
About half the states forbid someone from being fired because they are gay, and the other half allows that. There have been state laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and Minnesota is one of those states.
The Supreme Court justices are being asked to interpret the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act which bars employment discrimination based on sex. The question is does that law mean the gender of a person, the sexual orientation of a person, or both?
Justice Neil Gorsuch said in arguments that the case seems close, but he wonders whether the justices should consider “the massive social upheaval” that might follow a ruling in favor of LGBT employees.
The court’s four liberal justices appeared likely to vote that a key provision
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination in employment on
the basis of sex should encompass both sexual orientation and transgender
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not squarely indicate their views.
After Tuesday’s oral arguments the court is expected to give its decision by the end of June.
Later in the session, they’ll also hear an abortion case out of Louisiana and a gun rights case from New York.