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05.13.19 | Blog Posts

Will the Rise of Originalism Spell the End of Gay Rights Under Title VII?

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

With the arrival of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, almost half of the justices now subscribe to originalism—the view that vague constitutional provisions mean what they were originally understood to mean when they were enacted. While originalism figures prominently in debates about constitutional interpretation (for example, originalists claim that Roe v. Wade must be wrong because nobody alive in 1791 believed the Bill of Rights protected the right to have an abortion), originalism is seldom discussed in the context of statutory interpretation. That will likely change in the upcoming Supreme Court term, as the Court agreed on April 22 to review the Second Circuit’s en banc decision in Zarda v. Altitude Express—a decidedly non-originalist decision. In Zarda, notwithstanding that no one thought Title VII prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation when the law passed in 1964, the Second Circuit held that Title VII prohibits just such discrimination. [...]

Will the Rise of Originalism Spell the End of Gay Rights Under Title VII?