President Trump said his administration would “live with” the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier on Monday that gay and transgender employees are protected by existing civil rights laws against employer discrimination, which his administration had argued against.
The Trump administration had argued on behalf of a group of employers in the case, arguing that the Civil Rights Act did not cover gay or transgender employees.
“I’ve read the decision, and some people were surprised,” Trump said. “But they’ve ruled and we live with their decision.
“That’s what it’s all about. We live with the decision of the Supreme Court,” the president said of the 6-3 decision, which sparked outrage among many conservatives in part because Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with the majority.
“Very powerful. Very powerful decision actually,” Trump added. “But they have so ruled.”
A set of cases that came before the court had asked the justices to decide whether Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination on the basis of “sex,” applies to gay and transgender people.
Joined by fellow conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s progressive wing, Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, Gorsuch issued a landmark 6-3 ruling that Title VII forbids employers from discriminating against workers because they are gay or transgender, paving the way for breakthrough employment protections for LGBTQ people around the country. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, another Trump nominee, dissented from the decision.
“Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender,” Gorsuch wrote. “The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
Civil rights groups and LGBT advocates celebrated Monday’s landmark decision. Conservatives expressed frustration at the court’s ruling, arguing that the judiciary had stepped into legislative territory.
“Justice Scalia would be disappointed that his successor has bungled textualism so badly today, for the sake of appealing to college campuses and editorial boards,” said Carrie Severino, president of the conservative organization Judicial Crisis Network.
The decision came just days after the Health and Human Services Department finalized a rule that excludes gay and transgender people from discrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act, even though the president insisted during the 2016 campaign that he would be an advocate for the community.
Trump also oversaw the Pentagon’s policy barring most transgender people from serving in the military unless they serve under their biological sex.