Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Gorsuch on Gay/Trans Rights

Everybody was surprised when Justice Neil Gorsuch voted to extend employment protection to gay and transgender individuals under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  My first thought was, "Aw, that's really sweet!"  It was a choice that, to me, demonstrated his respect and affection for his mentor, retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

News commentators have made much of Gorsuch's commitment to "textualism" – the idea that judges should interpret law according to its specific language rather than trying to descry the lawmakers' specific intent.  Textualists, though, are the Jesuits of jurisprudence: individuals expert in spinning eminently logical arguments in defense of foregone conclusions.  In Bostock v. Clayton County, Gorsuch demonstrated his mastery of the art.

The four decisions in support of LGBT rights written by Justice Kennedy are likely to be viewed by history as his most significant actions in his time on the Supreme Court.  While I'm certain Kennedy made no attempt to influence his former clerk's decision, I'm equally certain that preserving Kennedy's historic legacy was a powerful factor in shaping the younger man's thinking.

Yeah, that's really sweet.

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