The U.S. Supreme Court today announced it would consider a case that will decide whether the word “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes a prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The case likely will demonstrate just how conservative the court has become with two Trump appointees. Will Bart O’Kavanaugh continue the legacy of the man who aided his rise, Anthony Kennedy? Neil Gorsuch seems likely to take the Trump administration view that there’s no bar to LGBT discrimination in employment.
Federal courts have split on the question of whether anti-discrimination law extends to LGBT people. Many states, including Arkansas, intentionally provide no protection. Arkansas even passed a law aiming at protecting those who would discriminate on that basis in employment, housing or public services.
The court accepted three cases for the term that begins in October. They include a transgender funeral home director who won her case after being fired; a gay skydiving instructor who successfully challenged his dismissal; and a social worker who was unable to convince a court that he was unlawfully terminated because of his sexual orientation.
A ruling in support of LGBT civil rights protection could override state efforts to protect discrimination. Passage of non-discrimination ordinances in several Arkansas cities have been ruled an overstep of state law that prohibits local ordinances on the subject, but no court in Arkansas has yet considered whether it is a federal constitutional violation to protect such discrimination.