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Titanium Dragon

TD writes and reviews pony fanfiction, and has a serious RariJack addiction. Send help and/or ponies.

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Discrimination against gay and transgender people now illegal in the United States under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 · 9:09pm Jun 15th, 2020

While this is a bit off-topic, I know a lot of you will be happy to hear that the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 today that discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation was illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

“An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions,” Gorsuch wrote in the decision, which applied to three separate cases. “That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

While many states had already passed such protections anyway, some had not, so if you were in one of the states that hadn't yet passed these protections, you are now protected under the law!

The 6-3 decision had all four Democratic appointees on the court joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Gorsuch, the latter of whom wrote the decision.

EDIT: The decision can be read here.

Comments ( 13 )

I have no words, just... simply amazing. This restored my faith in America for a bit.

That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.

That's the weird thing about trying to apply things written centuries ago, when they couldn't imagine anything close to the modern day. Sometimes, the wording just happens to be possible to interpret in a way that creates the dream that we believe is just. Like in this case, with the reasoning being "homophobia and transphobia are both technically sexism because a person being the opposite biological sex removes the supposed issue" which is a clever way of modernizing the law without actually amending it.

The US Constitution is actually written in very broad terms for this very reason - because they knew that things would change over time, and that it would need to be applied to new situations in the future. It's one of the reasons why the US Constitution has required so few amendments. This is one of the reasons why the First and Fourteenth Amendments are so powerful - they're very sweeping protections for the rights of the people.

Indeed, it was the Fourteenth Amendment which resulted in the US Supreme Court protecting the right of people to marry someone of the same sex.

Most ordinary laws are not written in such sweeping language because they're much easier to pass and thus, they don't necessarily want a bunch of unintended consequences. But the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended up protecting a lot of people due to its wording, and it has definitely been a good thing for the people of America.

It's. About. Damn. Time.

I mean, I would hope "a lot of you" would be "everyone", but I've hung out around the "Unsafe Space" group enough to know that's sadly far from true.

It's even funnier than that. The "sex" term was inserted by Dixiecrats as a poison pill to try and derail the Act's passage.

That's actually a (rather persistent) myth. The people who pushed for the amendment had a history of pushing for women's rights, and they wanted to make sure that if the bill passed, white women would be protected as well, as otherwise, they'd be the only group who weren't protected under the law.

This was particularly important to Representative Howard Smith. While opposed to civil rights for blacks, he had long been an advocate for white women's rights. He insisted that he was sponsoring the amendment in sincerity. And honestly, it's probably true. He was a racist bastard, but he'd sponsored the submission of the Equal Rights Amendment (which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex) to the House for like two decades at that point. Long-time women's rights advocate (and suffragette - she was pretty ancient by that point) Alice Paul pushed for him to include protection for women in the Civil Rights Act, which he otherwise opposed, so as to ensure that white women would be protected under the law.

Representative Martha Griffiths argued on the floor on behalf of the amendment, saying that the bill would leave white women as the only group not protected under the law. She also argued that the labor laws which were specifically designed to "protect women" from bad working conditions in the workforce really existed to keep women out of some jobs. Griffiths, who was a representative from Michigan, was a long-time ERA proponent as well, and indeed was instrumental in the passage of the ERA from Congress to the states, but it was not ratified by the required number of states before its built-in time limit ran out.

Here's a video of her talking about the sex amendment in 1970.

They knew that the Republicans would vote for it, as equal rights for women was part of their platform. Some Southern Democrats probably voted for it pretty much to embarrass the Northern Democrats, many of whom opposed protection for women because the unions were opposed to protecting women (as it would mean that they'd be able to compete for men's jobs), basically calling them out for not really backing equal rights for all. Some people in the Civil Rights Movement were also opposed to it - there had been long-standing acrimony between the women's right movement and the black rights movement because everyone wanted to be first in line to get more rights, and the blacks saw this as an attempt to hijack their success or possibly doom it to failure.

The sex amendment was supported by the Republicans and mostly Southern Democrats (with a few northerners joining in), but on the final vote for the bill as a whole, the Republicans joined the Northern Democrats in passing the bill as a whole, with only a few southerners joining in. Smith, notably, did vote against the final version of the bill, as he was opposed to blacks getting equal rights, but Griffiths voted for it.

I'll say I'm pleasantly surprised. While I didn't run around screaming the sky is falling as the court became packed with more and more Republicans, I can't say I wasn't concerned. Good to see a good, simple, logical ruling. Now if only this would help more here in Missouri.

That and because it was a new experimental type of government, so at times they kicked things down the road that they hadn't figured out, or would've been controversial at the time, just look at the Electoral College or the Presidential line of succession.

It’s so weird to hear good news about this government. Weird but good.

I think it's more a consequence of the language they used that wasn't intended, despite the meaning of the words not changing one iota since the law's passage. Congress never intended to protect GLBT people with the law, but this is because they never fully considered the ramifications of banning discrimination based upon somepony's sex. I agree with Gorsuch's majority opinion in that regard.

It's important to consider the strategic reason for Chief Justice Robert's decision to side with the majority given his dissent in the Marriage Rights Cases. By voting with the majority, he can exercise his right as Chief Justice to name who will write the majority opinion. If he had dissented, it probably would have defaulted to the most senior justice, Ginsburg. By siding with the majority, he could name Gorsuch to write what is in all likelihood a more restrained opinion than what we would have gotten out of Ginsburg or Breyer.

Decisions are voluntarily joined, which means that the senior justice will often assign the "least convinced" justice on their side to write the opinion.

The reason for this is that that justice will tend to write the decision that everyone else on the side will actually be able to sign onto. It's not as simple as they vote, and then someone writes an opinion; they have a conference, assign someone to write a draft opinion, and then circulate it and people suggest changes. If other people don't feel like they can sign onto an opinion, then they may write a concurrence, or might even switch sides entirely if they find the other side's opinion more convincing. This actually has happened a number of times over the years; apparently former justice Kennedy was known for switching sides at this stage, which is probably also why he wrote a number of 5-4 decisions - because the people in the majority wanted to make sure he would actually sign on to their side.

The fact that no one else wrote a concurrence (which happens sometimes) suggests that they were all in pretty solid agreement on the way the law worked.

I don't think any shenanigans were at work here; I think Roberts agreed with their legal opinion. Gorsuch's opinion was written in a very straightforward manner.

Also, I don't think that the decision was particularly narrow, given that interpreting sex and sexual discrimination in this way is an extremely important precedent, and has a broad impact on a lot of other laws (at least potentially).

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