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Good News From Washington, DC

We citizens in DC have been subjected to too much sad news and desolation due to the coronavirus and the violent federal response to a peaceful demonstration against police brutality. These peaceful demonstrations are continuing throughout the United States.  

I was very happy that on June 15th the Supreme Court of the US decided that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from firing employees for being lesbian, homosexual, bisexual or transgender. Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia was a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

On page nine of the opinion he states that: Title VII’s message is “simple but momentous”: An individual employee’s sex is “not relevant to the selection, evaluation, or compensation of employees.” Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U. S. 228, 239 (1989) (plurality opinion). The statute’s message for our cases is equally simple and momentous: An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. 

This decision is one to celebrate. For more analysis of the opinion, please read Amy Howe’s opinion piece on SCOTUSblog.  

Then I was equally happy when on June 18th the Supreme Court issued their opinion in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) case. The Chief Justice, John Roberts wrote the opinion for Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of Univ. of Cal. This 5-4 opinion ruled that the Trump administrative decision to terminate the program, which protects almost 700,000 young adults who were brought into the country at an early age, was “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedure Act.  

The Chief Justice concluded that: We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. “The wisdom” of those decisions “is none of our concern.” Chenery II, 332 U. S., at 207. We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action. Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients. That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew. 

Those protected under DACA are safe from deportation for now. For more analysis of this decision, please read Amy Howe’s opinion piece.

As of June 22nd, there are still fourteen decisions to come down before the end of June. Often the most controversial opinions come at the end of the term, so be prepared. 

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