Eighty-two percent of Americans support civil rights protections for gays, lesbians and bisexuals, according to a CBS News poll. So why was it so surprising on Monday when the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that it is illegal to fire a worker simply because they are gay?
The big surprise was how the vote broke down.
Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts broke ranks to join the court's four liberal justices. Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, even wrote the majority decision.
"An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender, fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex," Gorsuch wrote. "Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision."
Gorsuch was quickly attacked by some on the right.
Judicial Crisis Network President Carrie Severino, a leading cheerleader for Trump's court nominees, put out a statement condemning Gorsuch,. saying that, "Justice Scalia would be disappointed that his successor has bungled textualism so badly" in reaching the decision.
Textualism, according to ballotpedia.org, is a method of legal interpretation where the plain text of a statute is used to determine the meaning of legislation. "Instead of attempting to determine statutory purpose or legislative intent, textualists adhere to the objective meaning of the legal text."
"You can't redefine the meaning of words themselves and still be doing textualism," Severino said. "This is an ominous sign for anyone concerned about the future of representative democracy."
Trump was silent on the ruling for much of the day, then told reporters, "Well, they've ruled.. I've read the decision. And some people were surprised. But they've ruled, and we live with their decision; that's what it's all about."
Evangelist Franklin Graham wrote that the decision "erodes religious freedoms."
"Christian organizations should never be forced to hire people who do not align with their biblical beliefs and should not be prevented from terminating a person whose lifestyle and beliefs undermine the ministry's purpose and goals," he said.
Monday's ruling is the biggest ruling of the court so far this term, but there are a number of cases on the docket that could surprise. Among them:
- The fate of the "Dreamer" program that extends protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children.
- A Louisiana law restricting abortion access.
- And President Trump's battle to keep his private financial records from Congress.
Guessing how the Supreme Court might rule in any case is a parlor game for some, but rulings have real impact on real people. How the court — and Gorsuch and Roberts in particular — vote in these matters will, no doubt, be scrutinized by both sides of our socially divided nation.
This editorial includes information from the Washington Post.