By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter
Updated 5:31 PM ET, Mon June 15, 2020
(CNN)Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, delivered an opinion Monday that will change how more than 7 million LGBTQ individuals will live and work in the United States.
It is a watershed moment from an unlikely author that means gay, lesbian and transgender workers are protected by federal civil rights law. It is a stunning defeat for judicial conservatives who worked to ensure Gorsuch’s nomination and Republicans, including Donald Trump, who stymied President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, liberal Merrick Garland in 2016.
The ruling puts Gorsuch in the history books.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Gorsuch wrote, which bars discrimination “because of sex,” also covers claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
But for close observers of his writings and actions on the bench, Gorsuch simply was showcasing his fidelity to rules of statutory interpretation — relying on the plain text of the law — that were championed by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. It is the clearest example yet that Gorsuch, who is by any definition a conservative judge and has cast key votes in the past siding with the President, is capable of flexing his independence, charting a distinctive course and disrupting expectations.
At the same time, it will infuriate those who worked on his confirmation, confident that he was the right candidate to fill the shoes of Scalia.