Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Why the Seventh Circuit's Ruling is so Important

Tuesday the United States Court of appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans LGBT workplace discrimination. The en banc ruling reversed a decision by a three judge panel in July. Federal law now precludes LGBT workplace discrimination in Illinois, Indiana and the eastern half of Wisconsin. The Seventh Circuit is seen as relatively conservative.

There is now diversity of opinion. Three weeks ago, the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta reached the opposite conclusion. This sets up a showdown at the United States Supreme Court, presumably in the next term. Conservatives are likely to assert that it was never the intention of Congress to apply Title VII of the Act to LGBT people. Assuming that Gorsuch is confirmed this might once again cast Justice Kennedy as the key swing vote.

Needless to say, this would be a monumental decision. We are not seeking preferences (although I could make a good argument for their existence). All we want is to be judged on the basis of our performance in the workplace. Is that really too much to ask?

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