Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has joined 15 other Republican leaders in petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to rule against workplace protections for trans people.
Gov. Bryant signed a brief, along with other Republicans across the country, urging the SCOTUS to rule that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t protect transgender people.
This brief came after the Alliance Defending Freedom asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In this case, the court ruled that an employer in Michigan — a devout Christian — violated an employee’s Title VII protections by firing her after disclosing she was trans. Title VII bars employers from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, or national origin.
The trans woman in question, Aimee Stephens, claims she was fired by a Detroit-area funeral home solely because of her gender identity. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also found that the employer regularly discriminated against female employees. For instance, clothings benefit only for male employees.
While a lower court initially ruled against Stephens and the EEOC, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio overturned that ruling this past March. Now, Republican lawmakers across the country are asking the SCOTUS to deny workplace protections to trans people.
Gov. Phil Bryant joins Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Maine Gov. Paul LePage in signing this brief. The other 13 signees were Republican attorneys generals.
In the brief, Bryant and the others argue that the term ‘sex’ doesn’t mean ‘anything other than biological status.’
‘When Congress enacted Title VII, … the understanding of the word “sex” did not include the expansion of that word to include “gender identity,”’ the brief states.
‘The term “gender identity,” or as the 6th Circuit labels it, “transgender” and “transitioning status,” are not found in the text or legislative history of Title VII.’
If the SCOTUS takes on this case, it can affect the lives of transgender Americans for years to come.
This past week, the Senate held a confirmation hearing for Trump’s SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh. For LGBTI rights activists, this case highlights the importance of the outcome of this hearing.
If confirmed, Kavanaugh would take place of former Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy was the pivotal fifth vote in many of the recent LGBTI rights cases. For example, the 2013 Windsor decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the 2015 Obergefell decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
This confirmation hearing comes at a time when transgender Americans are worried they may not be able to vote in November.