The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from firing someone “simply for being homosexual or transgender.” Such a firing, the Court held, constitutes discrimination “because of such individual’s … sex” in violation of the express command of Title VII. Justice Gorsuch’s opinion for the Court held that the cases involved “no more than the straightforward application of legal terms with plain and settled meanings. For an employer to discriminate against employees for being homosexual or transgender, the employer must intentionally discriminate against individual men and women in part because of sex.”
That decision accords with arguments made in an amicus brief Robbins Russell filed on behalf of nearly 40 Republicans, former Republicans, and political conservatives, including former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and nine former Members of Congress. Robbins Russell’s brief argued that the “plain text” of Title VII, and “[b]asic principles of textualism,” resolved the cases in favor of the LGBTQ employees. On page 1, the brief asserted that “only the text … is actual law, passed by Congress and presented to the President in accordance with” the Constitution. The Supreme Court agreed, saying, “Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit.”
The New York Times reported that Robbins Russell’s brief was “aimed at convincing the court’s conservatives, like Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, that the law as written in 1964 covered employment discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity.” Roy T. Englert, Jr., Laurie Rubenstein, Peter Gabrielli, and Carolyn Forstein worked on the brief.
Mr. Englert emphasized the decision’s significance in the New York Times: “‘As of today, nowhere in the United States is it legal to fire someone for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. That’s a big deal.’”