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  • Curt Levey

Political Pressure on High Court Looms Over Gay, Transgender Rights Cases Today

The following is the statement of Committee for Justice president Curt Levey:

The Supreme Court hears argument today in three cases representing one of the most controversial issues it will address this term, gay and transgender employment rights. The political stakes of these cases remind us that events of recent months have made it apparent that Democrats are applying political pressure, if not outright intimidation, to the Court—particularly to potential swing justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh—in the hopes of influencing votes on key cases such as today's.

This August, in an amicus brief in a New York City gun rights case, five Democrat senators accused the Supreme Court of being “not well” and warned it might be "restructured" if it doesn't "heal itself." Then last month, most of the leading Democratic presidential hopefuls called for Justice Kavanaugh's impeachment after a misleading New York Times article accused him of an incident of inappropriate sexual behavior during college. These attacks came on the heels of Democrats' various proposals to pack or otherwise restructure the Court which, we've noted, were aimed in part at squeezing the justices, especially Chief Justice Roberts.

This campaign of pressure is no doubt motivated both by Democrats' exaggerated fears of what the Court's post-Kennedy center-right majority will do and by the relatively large number of hot-button cases before the Supreme Court this term. Among the most important such cases are the New York gun case and today's employment cases.

Yesterday, the High Court's rejection of progressives' pleas to dismiss the gun case as moot was a good sign for those worried about the Court caving to pressure. Today, on the second day of its new term, the Court is hearing argument on the first of the hot-button issues: should the Title VII statute banning sex-based employment discrimination be interpreted to expand coverage to discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status.

This issue is of great importance to the Democrats squeezing the justices and is at the center of the progressive culture war agenda that drives their desire to influence the Court. That makes today's cases a bellwether of how the pressure will affect the justices.

Court watchers will thus be looking closely to see what clues they can discern from today's oral argument. Will Justice Kavanaugh go out of his way to show sympathy for what the plaintiffs say is sex discrimination? And will the Chief Justice look for a way to split the proverbial baby, something he has been known to do when the political stakes are high?



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