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Supreme Court will take up LGBT employee discrimination cases next term

Ariane de Vogue

04/22/2019

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether a federal employment discrimination law that bans discrimination based on sex also encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification.

Lower courts have split on the issue that is of critical importance to LGBT rights supporters who are seeking broadened protections. The Trump administration has said that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not provide such protections.

The court will hear arguments on the cases next term.

The justices were asked to hear three different petitions concerning whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits employment discrimination based on sex also encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"Whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and/or transgender status has been looming as a major question in the lower courts for the past few years," said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. 

"Today's grants means not only that the Supreme Court is going to settle the matter, but that its answers are likely going to come right in the middle of the 2020 election season. And although the court had taken significant steps to protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, that was when Anthony Kennedy was still the court's swing vote."

These cases will become a major test for the court's newly solidified conservative majority. All eyes will be on Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh as they wade through the facts of three cases with divergent backgrounds.

Two of the cases, Bostock v. Clayton and Altitude v. Zarda, concern sexual discrimination, and a third, R.G. and G.R v. EEOC, targets gender identity.

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