37 Prominent Conservatives File Brief to U.S. Supreme Court in Support of LGBTQ Protections

July 3, 2019 • 2:19 pm

Republicans and Independents file brief stating that conservative principles make it clear that federal law bans LGBTQ discrimination

WASHINGTON – Today, 37 current and former Republican elected officials, political advisers, business leaders, lawyers and members of past Republican Presidential administrations filed a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court in support of LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in the workplace. The brief argues that according to the conservative principles of textualism and rule of law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, also prohibits anti-LGBTQ discrimination. The brief, which can be found here, was drafted by Roy Englert Jr., a prominent Supreme Court litigator and partner at the Robbins Russell law firm.

“Members of the Republican Party should support people’s ability to reap the rewards of their labor — to earn a fair and honest living, and to work where they want to work,” said Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “Workers should be judged based on their qualifications and performance, and never discriminated against based on their status or personal characteristics. We are the party of economic freedom, personal liberty and limited governmental interference, and treating LGBTQ workers fairly is consistent with our principles.”

“The language of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act could not be more clear: terminating or denying a job opportunity to anyone based on their sex is discrimination, and that’s exactly what happened to the gay and transgender plaintiffs in the cases pending before the Supreme Court,” said Patrick Guerriero, former mayor of Melrose, MA and member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. “Our principles teach us to examine the language and rule of law in order to apply it properly — and there is no separating sex from LGBTQ status. The Supreme Court should uphold the rulings of so many lower courts and federal agencies, and uphold these protections.”

“What unites us as conservatives is the notion that anyone who works hard should have the opportunity to succeed,” said Kathryn Lehman, former Chief of Staff at the House Republican Conference. “Discrimination against any group of people in the workplace based solely on who they are is antithetical to the values that we stand for. The Supreme Court has the opportunity to state definitively that all people, including LGBTQ people, should have an equal opportunity on the job.”

The text of the brief states in part:

“Basic principles of textualism resolve this case. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 tells employers that it is unlawful to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s . . . sex.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). These words are unambiguous, and this Court’s cases have taken them as such. Both textualism and precedent accordingly command that Title VII’s words be applied to mean what they say: It is unlawful for an employee’s sex to contribute to an employer’s decision to discharge or otherwise discriminate against the employee. 

“Yet that is exactly what happened in all three cases on review. … [I]n all three cases, an employee was fired for attractions or actions that his or her employer would have tolerated for members of another sex. Plainly, the employees were discharged because of their sex. These are straightforward violations of the plain words of Title VII.”

The cases before the Supreme Court concern three plaintiffs: Gerald Lynn Bostock, who was fired from his job as a child welfare services coordinator in Georgia because he is gay; Aimee Stephens, who was let go from her job at a funeral home in Michigan after she shared with her employer that she is a transgender woman; and Don Zarda, who was fired from his job in New York as a skydiving instructor for being gay. Today’s brief is one of nearly 50 that will be filed this week from more than 2,000 signatories, including members of Congress, women’s rights groups, businesses, civil rights organizations, and more.

According to an April 2019 poll by Quinnipiac University. 92 percent of Americans think that firing people or denying them jobs or promotions because they are LGBTQ is wrong. Support from prominent Republicans in particular is growing: this year, more than two dozen Republican lawmakers in over a dozen states sponsored LGBTQ nondiscrimination legislation; and many Republicans refused to pass discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ legislation in places like Texas, Georgia and South Dakota.###

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