The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to fall in line

photo from commondreams.org

Just when many of us were firmly convinced the United States government has completely lost touch with American culture, it surprises us. Well, part of it does at least. OK, OK, a few people in black robes do.

The U.S. Supreme Court got a couple of things right this week. Novice politicos all across the country just assume a court with the majority of its members appointed by Republicans will just fall in line with whatever the latest GOP whim is. Nope. Not when some of those whims are just that bad. And recent positions the Grand Old Party has taken regarding employment and immigration are way out of step with America.

First up, on the question of whether an employer can fire an employee solely because that employee is gay or transgender–the answer in America now is “no.” Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the 6-3 majority opinion in the ruling announced on Tuesday. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, and all four “liberal” justices.

“It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating … based on sex,” Justice Gorsuch wrote in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination based on sex. The example Justice Gorsuch gives is brutally rational.  Reported by NPR, it pertains to two employees who are attracted to men. In the example, one is male and the other female. “If the employer fires the male employee for no reason other than the fact that he is attracted to men,” but not the woman who is also attracted to men, that is clearly a firing based on sex, he wrote.

That is not the typical example, but it is absolutely true. Gorsuch was the first Supreme that President Donald Trump appointed but that did not convert the conservative jurist into a “Trumper.” This ruling ran counter to Trump’s and his party’s rhetoric on the issue. But what’s the big deal? It’s not like the president was a party to the case or anything.

He actually was the losing party on Thursday.

Trump v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was one of three cases used to decide the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program initiated by President Barack Obama in 2012. Trump wanted to end the program. Why wouldn’t he want to end it?  Only 74% of Americans support it after all. In American politics, that is what we call a consensus.

In this ruling, the court took a pass on choosing whether or not the program should be firmly established by its ruling. They did, however, rule that the administration did not follow “a reasoned explanation for its action.” The Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote this opinion, again siding with the four “liberals,” Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.

Basically, the ruling makes it clear that if Trump really wants to end DACA, he should follow the law. Oh, and maybe hire better lawyers. For there to be a “next time,” he will need to be victorious at the ballot in November. And with 74% of Americans supporting the program now, he might want to let it go.

The justices are simply not cowering to Trump the way the U.S. Senate does. Why would they? Being “conservative” doesn’t mean they are Trumpers. Even when one of them was appointed by him. OK, Brett Kavanaugh is a Trumper, and he appears to be steadfast in his commitment to the current GOP “brand.” I wonder what he will be loyal to when Trumpism is extinct, which it certainly will be before Kavanaugh’s time on the court is over.

We should celebrate the court this week. Not just because these two rulings ended the way I wanted them to end. It is because the court did what the senate can’t do, which is to think for themselves. It is un-American to believe that an employer should be able to fire an employee simply for being gay or transgender. It is also un-American to not protect children who were brought here illegally through a decision in which they had no role. The outcomes from these two court decisions were right for all of us.

On Thursday, President Trump tweeted: “Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” Yes, Mr. President, I do. Primarily because you often break the law. The rest of us don’t like the reasons you break it much either.

 

 

 

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Michael Leppert

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