"US Supreme Court West Facade" by Matt Wade / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Supreme Court closed the door on LGBTQ employment discrimination. But it opened a window.

Jun 23, 2020

By Amanda Hollis-Brusky

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling for LGBTQ rights. The majority opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment “because of … sex,” can be read to extend protections to LGBTQ individuals. Perhaps most surprisingly, the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision was written by Trump appointee and conservative stalwart Neil M. Gorsuch, and he was joined by fellow conservative Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

The decision prompted swift and intense reactions from both sides of the issue. Civil rights groups hailed the decision as “a huge victory for LGBTQ equality.” Christian conservatives responded with alarm, predicting that the ruling will have “seismic implications for religious liberty.”

But a close reading suggests that the ruling may not be as sweeping as both sides have characterized it. Of particular interest are the final few paragraphs of Gorsuch’s opinion, where he leaves open the possibility that these newly extended protections for LGBTQ individuals could be “supersede[d]” by religious liberty claims.

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