Trump admin asks Supreme Court not to extend sex discrimination ban to sexual orientation

Trump admin asks Supreme Court not to extend sex discrimination ban to sexual orientation
© Greg Nash

The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court not to extend a sex discrimination ban to include sexual orientation, arguing that the language for the law was not intended for that purpose. 

The Justice Department argues that the language in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevents employment discrimination "because of sex,” does not apply to sexual orientation, in an amicus brief filed Friday. 

The Justice Department says the term “sex” is not otherwise defined in the law, arguing that it therefore means the “ordinary meaning of ‘sex’” which is refers to a person being “biologically male or female.”

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“It does not include sexual orientation,” the department said in the brief. “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, standing alone, does not satisfy that standard.”

The filing relates to the cases of Gerald Bostock, a man who claims he was fired by Clayton County, Ga., for being gay, and Donald Zarda, who claims he was fired as a skydiving instructor at Altitude Express, for being gay. 

Bostock’s case was dismissed by lower courts. 

Zarda filed an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint and a lower court granted summary judgement on the claim. A Second Circuit affirmed the decision. Zarda has since died and the case is now with his estate. 

The Justice Department argues in the brief that Bostock’s case should be affirmed and Zarda’s ruling should be reversed. 

The defense over the language in Title VII is similar to one the Trump administration made last week in a Supreme Court filing arguing that federal civil rights laws do not protect transgender workers.