TOP LEGAL NEWS OF THE WEEK

Supreme Court protects LGBTQ workers, DACA program

June 22, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered two major rulings last week and still has several high-profile rulings to make before the end of its current term.

The court ruled on June 18 that the Trump administration cannot carry out its plan to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed nearly 800,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors to avoid deportation.

The Supreme Court still has several high-profile decisions to release this term, including three on the limits of presidential power.

The Supreme Court still has several high-profile decisions to release this term, including three on the limits of presidential power.

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In a 5-4 decision, the ruling said the government failed to give an adequate justification for ending the federal program. However, the ruling also added that the administration could try again to shut down the program by offering a more detailed explanation for its action.

The court said the Department of Homeland Security improperly violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it ordered the program ended in 2017. In response to legal challenges, lower court rulings allowed DACA to continue and allowed program participants to reapply every two years and remain under its protection. The ruling will allow DACA recipients to continue to renew membership in the program.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision for the cases Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, Donald Trump v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Kevin McAleenan v. Martin Jonathan Batalla Vidal.

On June 15, the court made a landmark decision holding that federal law prohibits employment discrimination against LGBTQ workers in the cases of Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The ABA filed an amicus brief in support of the employees in the LGBT cases. It urged the Supreme Court to recognize that the prohibition against employment discrimination because of sex in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses discrimination against persons whose sexual orientation or transgender status diverges from the characteristics society ascribes to them on the basis of sex.

In writing the 6-3 majority decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch considered Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying: “Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. … An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

ABA President Judy Perry Martinez said of the decision: “The court’s decision confirms that transgender people, and lesbians, gay men and bisexual people throughout the country are entitled to the same respect, protection and fair treatment afforded all workers under law.”

The court still has several high-profile decisions to release this term, including three on the limits of presidential power. The court is considering whether the president of the United States may fire the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without cause in Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It is also deciding two cases dealing with President Trump’s ability to block release of his financial records in Trump v. Mazars USA and Trump v. Vance.

The court is also set to rule on the constitutionality of a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals (June Medical Services v. Russo) and two cases (Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue and Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania) that deal with church-and-state issues.

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