Wednesday, April 05, 2017
Ind. Decisions - More on: En banc 7th Circuit reverses Hively v. Ivy Tech
Updating yesterday's ILB post, here is some of the press coverage:
- "U.S. court rules 1964 civil rights law protects LGBT workers from bias"" from Reuters. A few quotes:
A U.S. appeals court, for the first time ever, on Tuesday ruled that federal civil rights law protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace.
The ruling from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago represents a major legal victory for the gay rights movement.
In its 8-3 decision, the court bucked decades of rulings that gay people are not protected by the milestone civil rights law, because they are not specifically mentioned in it.
"For many years, the courts of appeals of this country understood the prohibition against sex discrimination to exclude discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation," Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the majority. "We conclude today that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination."
The ruling also allows a lawsuit to go forward in Indiana, where plaintiff Kimberly Hively said she lost her community college teaching job because she is lesbian.* * *
"Today the court jettisons the prevailing interpretation and installs the polar opposite," Judge Diane Sykes wrote in dissent.
In her lawsuit, Hively said that Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend passed her over for a permanent position and refused to renew her contract as an adjunct professor after school administrators learned she is a lesbian.
- "Federal appeals court: Civil rights law covers LGBT workplace bias" Richard Wolf , USA TODAY - a few quotes:
The 8-3 decision by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which overturned a three-judge panel's ruling, represents another step in the effort by gay rights groups to extend their 2015 nationwide victory on same-sex marriage to other areas, including employment.
"It is actually impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without discriminating on the basis of sex," Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the majority. "It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the 'sex' from 'sexual orientation.'" * * *
Judge Richard Posner, one of eight 7th Circuit judges appointed by Republican presidents, issued a lengthy concurrence. "I don’t see why firing a lesbian because she is in the subset of women who are lesbian should be thought any less a form of sex discrimination than firing a woman because she’s a woman," he said.
The decision illustrated the rift between judges who adhere to the Constitution and laws as written and understood at the time, and those who take into consideration judicial precedents and societal changes in the aftermath -- a debate playing out this week in the Senate over the Supreme Court nomination of federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch.
Judge Diane Sykes, who was a finalist on President Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees, wrote the dissent. She accused the court of "an aggressive reading of loosely related Supreme Court precedents" in order to circumvent the legislative process.
"If Kimberly Hively was denied a job because of her sexual orientation, she was treated unjustly," Sykes said. "But Title VII does not provide a remedy for this kind of discrimination. The argument that it should must be addressed to Congress."
But Wood, who was considered for a Supreme Court nomination under President Barack Obama, said the ruling properly reflects "what the correct rule of law is now in light of the Supreme Court’s authoritative interpretations, not what someone thought it meant one, ten, or twenty years ago."
- "Federal Appeals Court Issues Historic Ruling In Favor Of Job Protections For Gay Workers" Chris Geidner, BuzzFeed News - some quotes:
In explaining why the court was taking the step it took Tuesday, Wood detailed the role of the court — and the changed legal circumstances for gay people in America today, detailing the line of Supreme Court decisions over 20 years that culminated in 2015's Supreme Court decision ending state bans on same-sex couples' marriages.
"[T]his court sits en banc to consider what the correct rule of law is now in light of the Supreme Court’s authoritative interpretations, not what someone thought it meant one, ten, or twenty years ago," Wood noted. "The logic of the Supreme Court’s decisions, as well as the common-sense reality that it is actually impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without discriminating on the basis of sex, persuade us that the time has come to overrule our previous cases that have endeavored to find and observe that line." * * *
Sykes wrote, in part, that the decision represented a "radical change in a well-established, uniform interpretation of an important—indeed, transformational—statute."
Hively is represented by Lambda Legal. * * * In Sykes' dissenting opinion, she addressed the group directly, saying that while "Lambda Legal's proposed new reading of Title VII ... has a strong foothold in current popular opinion," such information "informs a case for legislative change and might eventually persuade the people’s representatives to amend the statute to implement a new public policy" but that "it does not bear" on the legal question before the court as to the interpretation of Title VII.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 5, 2017 09:31 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions