1. Justice Ginsburg, a Woman Isn’t a ‘Demiboy’, If the Supreme Court redefines ‘sex’ to include ‘gender identity,’ the female sex will suffer.

By Ashley E. McGuire, The Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2019, Pg. A17, Opinion
Ms. McGuire is the author of “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.” 

Should the legal meaning of “sex” be changed? That’s what the Supreme Court will consider Tuesday when it hears oral arguments in the cases of Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Bostock v. Clayton County. Should the justices decide to broaden the meaning of sex, it would spell disaster for women.

The cases relate to whether federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on employees’ sexual orientation (Bostock) or “presenting” as the opposite sex (Harris Funeral Homes). Many Americans support legal protections against employment discrimination for those categories. But rather than new legislation creating civil rights protections for those categories, the plaintiffs seek protection under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex.”

In short, they are asking the justices to conflate sex with what is now known as gender identity. Yet “sex” has a concrete scientific definition— whether one is male or female as determined by chromosomes and biology.

The problem with diluting the meaning of sex is more than rhetorical. It weakens the legal status of the sex that laws such as Title VII and Title IX are designed to protect. Women’s rights hinge on our clearly defined status as women. We have endured centuries of discrimination because of our sex. In seeking to strip the term “sex” of legal meaning, gender-identity advocates would turn the clock back 55 years for women.

What becomes of women in a world where our legal status is in the same category as “two spirit” or “demiboy”? It sounds like a joke, yet already women find themselves all too often in a legal pretzel where they are accused of discrimination under laws once designed to protect them. A rape victim doesn’t want a biological male in her safe house. A teenage athlete doesn’t want one on the opposing team. No woman or girl wants one in the ladies’ room. Expand the legal definition of sex to include gender identity, and girls and women will increasingly find themselves in those situations, and they could face discrimination lawsuits if they speak out.

 Perhaps the deepest tragedy in winnowing the meaning of sex is the diminution of what it means to be a woman. Women have spent the better part of the past century building up our stature in society. I want my daughter to grow up proud of being a woman. I want her to be a part of expanding women’s rights, not fighting for the basic legal recognition we thought we’d won in 1964.


2. The Supreme Court’s Sex Debate, Congress is the place to rewrite laws as social mores change.

The Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2019, Pg. A16, Editorial

If you hadn’t heard, conservatives on the Supreme Court are preparing an all-out attack on America’s marginalized classes. The blitz begins Tuesday with a trio of cases that consider whether gay and transgender people are protected against employment discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. The Justices should focus on the law, not these overwrought political claims.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex. The plaintiffs in the three cases contend that “sex” encompasses sexual orientation and gender identity. Some facts are in dispute, but the question for the Court is whether plaintiffs who believe they have been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity have a right to sue.

The 11 appeals courts that addressed the question prior to March 2017 ruled that the language of the law doesn’t encompass sexual orientation. Plaintiffs want a more expansive interpretation reflecting evolving mores.

The best evidence that Congress didn’t intend to include these issues in the Civil Rights Act is that dozens of bills have been introduced over the years to add gender identity and sexual orientation. None have passed, but Congress is best suited to address the legal and practical questions posed by these cases.

Rewriting Title VII by judicial decree will create a legal minefield that mainly benefits trial lawyers. For legal protection, employers might have to infringe on worker privacy by soliciting information about gender identities and sexual orientations. Workers who don’t call colleagues by the correct pronoun could be censured for sexual harassment.

Redefining “sex” in Title VII could also affect how courts interpret other laws. Colleges could be sued under Title IX if they don’t allow transgender females to compete in women’s sports teams. Employers might be required to cover sex-reassignment surgeries.

Employers are already moving to protect gay or trans employes from discrimination, as 206 large businesses noted in a brief supporting the plaintiffs in the three cases. Good for them.

But the question before the Justices is not whether discrimination against gay or transgender workers is bad policy or morally wrong. It is whether judges can rewrite a law merely because cultural mores change. This is a matter for the people and their representatives.


3. The Supreme Court’s case on LGBT discrimination shouldn’t be a close call.

The Washington Post, October 8, 2019, Pg. A18, Editorial

Having begun its term Monday, the Supreme Court jumps into one of its highest-profile cases Tuesday. The justices will consider a question packed with significance for the culture wars and deeply consequential for many people’s lives — but one that, on the legal merits, should not be a hard call.

The justices will hear oral arguments in three cases testing whether federal law bars employers from discriminating against LGBT people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity

These plaintiffs argue that their firings were illegal under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which restricts most employers from discriminating against workers based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Firing someone because he is gay or she is transgender, they argue, is a form of sex discrimination.

The defendants and their supporters — including the Trump administration — retort that Congress did not have gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people in mind when it passed the Civil Rights Act a half-century ago. Indeed, lawmakers have considered and failed to pass updates to Title VII that would clearly extend employment protections to LGBT people.

That said, nothing the court does or declines to do affects Congress’s responsibility. If lawmakers finally approved explicit employment protections for LGBT people, the extension of those protections would gain more democratic legitimacy. And people such as Mr. Bostock, Ms. Stephens and Mr. Zarda would not have to worry that their livelihoods depend on the Supreme Court’s pronouncements.


4. New cardinals help Pope Francis put his stamp on Catholic Church.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, October 8, 2019, Pg. A8

Pope Francis created 13 new cardinals over the weekend, the latest sign of his solidifying his influence over his successor as head of the global Roman Catholic Church.

The appointments, which did not include any new American cardinals, comes as Pope Francis is engaged in an increasingly pointed clash with church conservatives over his stewardship of the church and the pope’s adherence to traditional Catholic doctrine and practices.

At the ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, replete with red hat and gift of a signet ring, the Argentine-born pontiff ushered in an era of “compassion” in the worldwide faith, saying new prelates should ask if they are “compassionate toward this or that brother or sister.”

“So many disloyal actions on the part of ecclesiastics are born of the lack of a sense of having been shown compassion,” said the 82-year-old pope, in remarks first reported on by the Catholic News Service. “And by the habit of averting one’s gaze — the habit of indifference.”

This is Pope Francis’s sixth papal consistory, as the formal meeting of the College of Cardinals is known, and now 91 cardinals — or 52% of those who will be eligible to vote for the next pope — have been placed by the polarizing pope. Such appointments, akin to a president filling slots in a federal judiciary, give Francis “the power to reshape the Church in his image,” reported Religion News Service.


5. Synod’s day one features ecology, married priests, an Amazon rite and blowback.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, October 8, 2019

During the two-year run-up to the event, Pope Francis’s Oct. 6-27 Synod of Bishops on the Amazon was expected to generate strong ecological consensus, firm support for indigenous cultures and peoples, and movement toward married priests for the Amazon inside the hall – not to mention, of course, a fair bit of consternation about all those ideas in broader Catholic debate.

The first full working session of the summit Monday afternoon certainly lived up to its billing, on basically every one of those fronts.

According to a news bulletin released by the Vatican late Monday Rome time, climate change and fossil fuels came in for discussion by the roughly 300 participants in the synod, including 184 bishops from the nine South American nations that share a portion of the Amazon rainforest.

“The climate is a global good, it was said, a good which must be cared for and preserved for future generations,” the bulletin quoted participants as saying. “It was suggested to stop using fossil fuels, above all in the most industrialized countries which have the greatest responsibility for pollution.”

As is the Vatican’s practice, the bulletin did not identify which speakers inside the synod made this point or how many of them spoke on the issue. It’s impossible at this stage, therefore, to assess whether the points presented represent a consensus among participants, or are merely indicative of some of the topics touched upon.


6. Pope seeks ‘courageous’ debate over Amazon priest shortage.

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, October 7, 2019

Pope Francis urged South American bishops on Monday to speak “courageously” at a high-profile meeting on the Amazon, where the shortage of priests is so acute that the Vatican is considering ordaining married men and giving women official church ministries.

Francis opened the work of the three-week synod, or meeting of bishops, after indigenous leaders, missionary groups and a handful of bishops chanted and performed native dances in front of the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica with a small wood canoe containing religious objects.

Among the most contentious proposals on the agenda is whether married elders could be ordained priests, a potentially revolutionary change in church tradition given Roman rite Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy.


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