Supreme Court hears arguments over LGBT rights in the workplace

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FILE – In this June 20, 2019, file photo, the Supreme Court in Washington. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in two of the term’s most closely watched cases over whether federal civil rights law protects LGBT people from job discrimination. The cases Tuesday, Oct. 8, are the court’s first on LGBT rights since Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement and replacement by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (KETK) – On just the second day of its new term, the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments over whether federal law protects LGBT people from workplace discrimination.

The case stems from whether a provision in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bars discrimination in employment because of sex covers LGBT people.

It comes at a time when most states do not have laws that protect more than 8 million LGBT workers from discrimination. Some employers have claimed that hiring such workers would violate their religious beliefs.

It is the first case involving LGBT rights since Justice Anthony Kennedy retired and was replaced by Justice Kavanaugh. Kennedy was instrumental in the historic ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized gay marriage in the United States back in 2015.

While Kavanaugh is viewed as more conservative than Kennedy, he has led some surprise rulings in his first year on the bench. Back in March, Kavanaugh wrote an opinion that halted a Texas man’s execution because the state would not provide him a Buddhist chaplain in the execution room.

“As this Court has repeatedly held, governmental discrimination against religion — in particular, discrimination against religious persons, religious organizations, and religious speech — violates the Constitution,” wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh in a concurring opinion.

Texas responded by barring chaplains of all faiths from the execution room and restricted them to the viewing room.

The decision is expected to come down in late spring of 2020, just months before the presidential election.

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