The Supreme Court's conservative bloc split along unusual lines Monday as the court delivered landmark workplace protections to transgender and gay employees. Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts. Their frequent allies—Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh—dissented. Coverage of the fallout:
- Election effect? The Hill reports that many conservatives rebuked Gorsuch, including radio host and blogger Erick Erickson, who warned of ramifications at the polls. "All those evangelicals who sided with Trump in 2016 to protect them from the cultural currents, just found their excuse to stay home in 2020," he wrote. Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, tweeted that "this was not judging, this was legislating—a brute force attack on our constitutional system." The group spent millions to help get Gorsuch confirmed, notes Politico.
- Trump, GOP: But Politico notes that, generally, no such criticism came from President Trump or from the majority of GOP senators who confirmed Gorsuch. Trump said he could "live" with the "very powerful" decision. Senate Majority Whip John Thune said it demonstrated Gorsuch's independence. An exception was Sen. Ted Cruz, who wrote that "six unelected and unaccountable judges instead took it upon themselves to act as legislators, and that undermines our democratic process.”
- Scalia's shadow: The late Antonin Scalia, whose vacancy on the court was filled by Gorsuch, was cited 21 times in Monday's LGBTQ decisions, including 19 times by dissenters, writes Richard Wolf in an analysis at USA Today. The reason centers on "textualism," the principle espoused by Scalia that justices shouldn't stray from the wording of a law. "The court's opinion is like a pirate ship," wrote Alito. "It sails under a textualist flag, but what it actually represents is a theory of statutory interpretation that Justice Scalia excoriated—the theory that courts should 'update' old statutes so that they better reflect the current values of society." Gorsuch, of course, disagrees and says his ruling adheres to the text of the 1964 law in question. Law and Crime digs into the debate.
- Evangelicals: The Washington Post rounds up criticism from Christian conservatives, who fear the ramifications on employers, religious schools, and social services run by religious organizations. From Franklin Graham: "Christian organizations should never be forced to hire people who do not align with their biblical beliefs and should not be prevented from terminating a person whose lifestyle and beliefs undermine the ministry's purpose and goals."
- It's big: In the liberal Nation, Elie Mystal writes that Gorsuch's ruling is a "significant civil rights victory," and that the gist of his decision sounds like it came from the pen of Sonia Sotomayor, or even Thurgood Marshall or Harvey Milk. "It is also, by far, the biggest legal win for the transgender community, ever." But Mystal also lays out why the ruling isn't perfect for the LGBTQ community.
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