Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court hears major LGBT case; USA Today listens to one side of debate -- period

Supreme Court hears major LGBT case; USA Today listens to one side of debate -- period

While the impeachment circus roars on, the U.S. Supreme Court drew another throng of demonstrators the other day as it heard arguments on another crucial LGBT-rights case.

The big news here, in case you had not heard, is that Justice Anthony Kennedy is now a retired justice. Do the math.

If you read the New York Times report on the oral arguments before the court, it was pretty obvious that this was yet another case in which religious liberty issues appear to be clashing with the Sexual Revolution. Check that out here, if you want to hear quite a bit of information from lawyers on both sides of the debate.

Then again, if only want to hear the LGBT side of the arguments, you can read USA Today. Here is the top of the story that ran there (and in many Gannett newspapers across the nation):

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court appeared deeply divided Tuesday on a major civil rights question: whether gay and transgender people are covered by a federal law barring employment discrimination on the basis of sex.

The court's rulings in three cases, which are not expected until next year, seemed to hinge on President Donald Trump's two nominees. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch called the dispute over transgender rights "close" but more likely an issue for Congress to address. Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh directed his only question to a lawyer for two employers that fired gay workers, leaving his position in doubt.

The court's four liberal justices forcefully denounced the firings of two gay men and a transgender woman from Georgia, New York and Michigan and made clear they believe all three should be protected by the statutory ban on sex discrimination.

"We can't deny that homosexuals are being fired merely for being who they are and not because of religious reasons, not because they are performing their jobs poorly," Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, calling it "invidious behavior."

Ah, “religious reasons.” Might that be a reference to “religious liberty”?

It’s hard to know, since the USA Today report never addresses that side of the equation in any way whatsoever — until the final paragraph of the story.

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The Los Angeles Times omits a key (ghost!) detail in John Roberts retrospective

The Los Angeles Times omits a key (ghost!) detail in John Roberts retrospective

One odd innovation during the most recent GOP presidential candidates debate was how many candidates trashed Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Wasn’t he the savior for all conservatives some 10 years ago? Didn’t he trash the recent majority ruling on same-sex marriage in June?

Which is why I was interested to read a recent Los Angeles Times story on Roberts’ fall from grace, as it were. 

Several publications ran similar 10th anniversary pieces on Roberts' ascent to the high court this past week. The chief justice, by the way, just turned 60, so his influence on the court should last at least another 20 years, if he sticks around as long as some of the current 80-something justices.

Here is a crucial section of the Los Angeles Times piece. Might there be a crucial element of his work and worldview missing?

When a divided Supreme Court handed down six major rulings in the last week of June, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. came down firmly on the conservative side in five of them.
He voted against gay marriage, in favor of weakening a federal law against racial bias in housing and for the Arizona Republicans who challenged the state’s independent panel that draws election districts. He joined 5-4 majorities to block an Obama administration clean-air rule and to uphold a state's use of substitute drugs to carry out lethal injections.
But as Roberts this week marks the 10th anniversary of becoming chief ustice, he finds himself in the cross hairs of right-leaning pundits and GOP presidential hopefuls who brand him a disappointment and openly question his conservative credentials because of the one case of the six in which he voted with the court’s liberals.

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