Attorneys General Urge Circuit Court Not to Expand Title VII

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 21, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The states have aligned in the battle over LGBT employment rights in the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys general from Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Nebraska, and South Dakota have cast their opinions against a man who claims he lost a job because he is gay. Half of those states are in the Eighth Circuit's boundaries.

Meanwhile, eighteen other states have filed on behalf of the plaintiff in Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management, LLC. The appeals court will decide his fate, but will also push the pendulum forward or backward for LGBT rights in America.

Title VII

In Horton, the attorneys general in the circuit are urging the judges not to follow rulings in two other circuits. In Hively v. Ivy Tech Community of Indiana, the Seventh Circuit became the first federal appeals court to extend Title VII protections to the LGBT community.

The Second Circuit followed earlier this year in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. The Eighth Circuit states say that is far enough.

They argue that traditionally federal courts have not extended Title VII's anti-discrimination protections to people based on their sexual orientation. In the Eighth Circuit, they say, no court has ever done so.

The states also contend that Congress, which enacted the Civil Rights Act in 1964, has not amended the law to define gender other than male or female. "The meaning of "sex" as used in Title VII simply does not encompass sexual orientation," their brief says.

LGBT Rights

LGBT rights have been front-and-center in America, particularly since President Trump took office.

The same day the president announced the U.S. would not allow transgender people in the armed forces last year, the Justice Department argued that anti-discrimination laws should not protect people based on their sexual orientation.

That was in Zarda, which didn't quite work out the way the administration wanted. Neither did the transgender ban as judges repeatedly blocked it.

Trump issued a new order this year, however, which made an exception for transgender people already in the service.

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