Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser Monday night told a Vail Valley Votes Zoom meeting that the Supreme Court decision earlier in the day on LGBTQ rights was “deeply meaningful” and a sign Colorado’s Neil Gorsuch will show “faithfulness” to the letter of the law.
The court ruled 6-3 Monday that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects transgender, gay and lesbian employees from workplace discrimination based on their sex, and Justice Gorsuch – a Colorado conservative appointed by President Donald Trump in 2017 – wrote the majority opinion.
Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s four liberal justices joined Gorsuch in the ruling.
Weiser, a Democrat, clerked for Justice [Byron “Whizzer”] White – a Coloradan who served from 1962 to 1993 and was appointed by President John Kennedy — two years after Gorsuch also clerked for the late White. All three men share a University of Colorado connection.
“[Gorsuch] actually taught at CU Law School when I was the dean, and when he got appointed to the Supreme Court I took over his antitrust class, so I do know Neil,” Weiser said of Gorsuch, who is a distant cousin of famed Vail retailer Dave Gorsuch.
“What is reassuring about this decision is the faithfulness to the text,” Weiser said. “This was a very interesting case — I listened to the arguments and recommend it to people – because the Civil Rights Act says no discrimination on the basis of sex, and the question is if you’re a transgender individual, and you’re subject to discrimination, is that discrimination on the basis of sex? And Justice Gorsuch’s conclusion is, yes, clearly that’s on the basis of sex.”
The word “sex” was added to the act almost as an afterthought, by a segregationist who actually voted against the final bill, according to the Washington Post.
“Now what got people hung up is when the drafters wrote that language, ‘because of sex’, they weren’t thinking about transgender individuals, but Neil Gorsuch’s point is that doesn’t matter,” Weiser said. “The words are what they are, the protections provided by them are what they are, and we have to give due regard to those protections.”
Weiser celebrated the decision.
“This is what I hoped the decision would be; it’s what I believed it would be; and I’m delighted to see it,” Weiser said. “Let’s not overlook that Justice Roberts joined this as well. The Chief has established a bit of a reputation for being concerned about the institutional commitment of the court.”
Weiser added that the decision will have long-lasting and positive ramifications for LGBTQ people.
“Part of what’s happened is because so many people who are trans or gay or lesbian have come out, there is more acceptance and a greater commitment to nondiscrimination than we have ever had, and I think that this decision is deeply meaningful,” Weiser said. “Even a conservative Supreme Court is committed to ensuring equality against discrimination for LGBTQ individuals.”