By: Nicholas Rowan featuring IWLC Director Jennifer Braceras
Social conservatives fear that the Supreme Court’s Monday decision to protect gay and transgender people from employment discrimination will have consequences that reach beyond employment laws, threatening women’s sports and the freedom of speech.
The decision, delivered on Monday in Bostock v. Clayton County, reinterprets Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Religious liberty advocates and constitutional scholars drew from Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, to oppose that reading.
In his warning about women’s sports, Alito cited a brief from Jennifer Braceras, director of the Independent Women’s Law Center, who argued that Title VII revisions would deal a blow to women’s ability to compete fairly in sports.
“A ruling in favor of Respondents will reduce the number of athletic opportunities for biological women and girls,” Braceras wrote last year. “In the long run, it will undermine the legal justification for maintaining any sex-specific athletic teams and may result in the elimination of women’s sports altogether.”
Following the decision, Braceras said that her main concern was not the substance of the revisions but “the far-reaching and unintended negative consequences of reaching this result by judicial fiat” on, most prominently, women’s sports.
Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan Anderson characterized the decision as “judicial activism,” saying that it would lead to a broad reevaluation of civil rights that would ultimately harm women.
“The Court has rewritten our civil rights laws in a way that will undermine protections and equal rights of women and girls,” he said in a statement. “It will also expose employers that are struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic to significant liabilities.”
In his majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch addressed these concerns, saying that he expects future court cases to solve the questions raised by Bostock.