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State & Regional Govt & Politics
U.S. Supreme Court appears divided on Georgia man’s gay rights case

U.S. Supreme Court appears divided on Georgia man’s gay rights case

U.S. Supreme Court appears divided on Georgia man’s gay rights case
Photo Credit: AP/PATRICK SEMANSKY/Associated Press
U.S, Supreme Court justices on Tuesday heard three gay rights cases, including Bostock v. Clayton County.

U.S. Supreme Court appears divided on Georgia man’s gay rights case

U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared divided Tuesday on a Georgia man’s argument that a decades-old civil rights law protects millions of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans from discrimination in the workplace. 

Gerald Bostock claims he was fired from his job in Clayton County because he is gay. His case was one of three the high court heard Tuesday, setting the stage for what could be their first gay rights ruling with a new, solidly conservative majority. 

 The court’s four liberal justices appeared favorable to the arguments made by the attorney for Bostock and Donald Zarda, a late skydiving instructor from New York whose estate contends he was fired for telling a client he was gay. Separately, they heard from an attorney for Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman who was fired from her job at a Michigan funeral home after telling her boss she was transitioning from male to female. 

 But all eyes were on President Donald Trump’s two Supreme Court nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who were hearing their first gay rights case since their confirmations. 

 While Kavanaugh spoke little at Tuesday’s oral argument, Gorsuch asked questions that suggested he could ultimately be the deciding vote on the three cases. 

 A jurist known for a strict interpretation of the text of the law, Gorsuch said he saw how sex could be a “contributing” cause for LGBTQ people who have been fired. He told Stephens’ attorney, “I’m with you on the textual evidence.” But Gorsuch also worried about any “massive social upheaval” that could result from the court issuing a broad ruling and not letting Congress decide the issue. 

 “It’s a question of judicial modesty,” he said.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor, speaking from the court's liberal wing, said action could be needed to protect groups that have been disenfranchised. 

“We can’t deny that homosexuals are being fired merely for being who they are and not because of religious reasons, not because they are performing their jobs poorly, not because they can’t do whatever is required of a position, but merely because they’re a suspect class to some people,” Sotomayor said. “At what point do we say we have to step in?”  

Later in the day, one of Bostock’s lawyers said he felt “very confident” in the arguments his side presented to the court. 

“We feel they are grounded in the text of the law and Supreme Court precedent and very firmly so,” said Thomas Mew. “We certainly hope the court sees it that way as well.”  

Bostock was also in the courtroom for Tuesday’s proceedings, which he described as “surreal.” 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 10, 2019, 2019 - Atlanta - Gerald Lynn Bostock, photographed during an interview in his home. The case of former Clayton County child welfare official Gerald Lynn Bostock was among three the Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday. Bob Andres /

Georgia man brings gay rights case to U.S. Supreme Court

Photo Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 10, 2019, 2019 - Atlanta - Gerald Lynn Bostock, photographed during an interview in his home. The case of former Clayton County child welfare official Gerald Lynn Bostock was among three the Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday. Bob Andres /

“On my journey with this I have learned that it’s so much bigger than me,” he said. “People shouldn’t be fearful of going to work, that they’re going to lose their job because of who they are, how they identify or who they love.” 

Congress’ job?  

Three Georgia Congressmen, Republicans Jody Hice of Monroe, Rick Allen of Evans and Doug Collins of Gainesville, signed onto a legal brief this summer opposing Bostock’s view. 

The Civil Rights Act “has not been judicially interpreted to include sexual orientation and gender identity until recently, and legislative attempts to modify (law) to include them are ongoing,” the group wrote. “Consequently, this Court should refrain from judicially circumventing the legislative process.”  

Justice Samuel Alito on Tuesday indicated he was sympathetic to that argument, which was similar to those made by Clayton County and the Trump administration. 

“Congress has declined or failed to act on these requests,” Alito said. “And if the court takes this up and interprets this 1964 statute to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, we will be acting exactly like a legislature.”

The House passed the Equality Act, which would codify federal civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community, this summer but the legislation has not advanced in the GOP-controlled Senate. Georgia doesn't have a law on the books prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.


Solicitor General Noel Francisco said “sex and sexual orientation are two different traits” and that elected members of Congress were better suited to weigh in on such a political issue, as legislators have done in nearly two-dozen other states, and balance it with ‘religious liberty’ concerns.  

Stanford Professor Pamela Karlan, who argued for Bostock and Zarda, said there is “no analytic difference” between discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation and other “forms of discrimination that have been already recognized by every court.” She pointed to a 1989 Supreme Court ruling that held that gender stereotyping is a form of sex discrimination, and said that Bostock and Zarda’s employers relied on a stereotype that all men should be interested in women. 

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Fane Lozman, left, with his attorneys, Stanford University law professors Pamela Karlan and Jeffrey Fisher outside of the United States Supreme Court, Tuesday February 27, 2018. (Photo Jane Musgrave)

U.S. Supreme Court hands Fane Lozman second win against Riviera Beach

Photo Credit: Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Fane Lozman, left, with his attorneys, Stanford University law professors Pamela Karlan and Jeffrey Fisher outside of the United States Supreme Court, Tuesday February 27, 2018. (Photo Jane Musgrave)

Over and over again, justices returned to what Congress meant when it banned sex discrimination in the 1960s. At the time, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted, same-sex relations were a criminal offense in most states and the American Psychiatric Association labeled homosexuality a mental illness.

Tuesday’s cases were the first major gay rights cases considered by the court since the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, who authored the most significant LGBTQ rulings of the last two decades, including overturning a Texas law that criminalized sodomy in 2003 and legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015. 

Bostock, who lives in Doraville, ran a court volunteer program in Clayton County said he was fired after he joined a gay Atlanta softball league. Clayton officials said an audit showed he mishandled county funds, a charge he denies. Jack Hancock, a lawyer for the county, said “Mr. Bostock’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with his termination.” 

A ruling is expected in the cases next summer.

Staff writer Bill Rankin contributed to this article.

Read More


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  • A roll-on product used to relieve pain has been recalled because it failed to meet child-resistant packaging rules. causing concerns about poisoning of children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday in a news release. Sanvall Enterprises, based in Doral, Florida, recalled its Rapid Alivio Pain Relieving Roll-On, which was packaged in a 3-fluid ounce white plastic bottle with a white cap and a red, white and blue label, the CPSC said. 'Rapid Alivio,” “Maximum Strength Pain Relieving Liquid” and “Para Dolor Muscular” are printed on the label. The lot numbers 18032201, 18032301, 19040501, or 19052801 are printed on the bottom of the bottle, and the UPC code 605100014225 is printed on the side of the label. The product contains methyl salicylate and must be in child-resistant packaging as required by the Poison Prevention Packaging Act, the CPSC said in its release. However, the CPSC said the packaging was not child-resistant, posing a risk of poisoning if the contents are swallowed by young children. The CPSC said the recall involves 5,400 units, which were sold between August 2016 and June 2019. The products were sold at Navarro Discount Pharmacy and Walmart stores in South Florida, the CPSC said. Consumers should immediately store the roll-on in a safe location and out of reach of children and contact Sanvall Enterprises for a full refund, the CPSC said. Consumers with questions can call Sanvall Enterprises collect at 305-887-1090 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday. They also can email the company at and in the body of the email provide a name, address, and photo of the product or online at and click on “Recall -- Important Safety Information -- Rapid Alivio Roll-On” for more information.
  • More than 5.6 million people worldwide – including more than 1.6 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Wednesday, May 27, continue below:  More than 99,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the US Update 12:20 p.m. EDT May 27: The death toll associated with the novel coroanvirus in the U.S. surpassed 99,000 on Wednesday, according to a data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has the most number of COVID-19 cases in the world with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins. The second hardest-hit country is Brazil, where 391,222 coronavirus infections were confirmed as of Wednesday morning. America has lost more people to the coronavirus pandemic than any other country in the world. Health officials in the country with the second-most number of fatal COVID-19 cases, the United Kingdom, said Wednesday that 37,460 people have died of the viral infection. Washington DC to begin first phase of reopening Friday Update 11:45 a.m. EDT May 27: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. announced Wednesday that this week the District will begin its first phase of reopening businesses shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic. Bowser said her previously issued stay-at-home order will be lifted Friday, though she noted that 'the virus is still around us.' “The public health emergency will continue and gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited despite lifting the stay-at-home order this Friday,” she said in a post on Twitter. Beginning Friday, businesses deemed nonessential will be allowed to reopen for curbside, front-door or delivery service, Bowser said. Barbershops and hair salons will be required to operate on a by-appointment basis with customers sitting no less than 6 feet apart from one another. The announcement came after Bowser said health officials had noted a 14-day decrease in the community spread of the virus. Earlier Wednesday, Bowser said health officials in the District have confirmed 8,406 cases of COVID-19 so far. At least 445 people have died in the District of coronavirus infections. Walt Disney World aims to reopen in July, SeaWorld Orlando sets sights on June reopening Update 11:25 a.m. EDT May 27: Officials with Walt Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando on Wednesday submitted reopening plans to officials in Orange County, Florida. Walt Disney World plans to reopen in two waves beginning July 11. Officials said they want to open their Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom theme parks first and follow the move up with the reopening July 15 of EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, WFTV reported. Officials with SeaWorld Orlando said the theme park plans to reopen to employees June 10 and then to the public on June 11, according to WFTV. 2,013 new coronavirus infections reported in the UK Update 11:05 a.m. EDT May 27: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 2,013 new coronavirus infections Wednesday morning, raising the country’s total number of infections to 267,240. Officials said that as of 5 p.m. local time Tuesday, the most recent date for which data was available, 37,460 people had died nationwide of COVID-19. 72 new cases of COVID-19 reported in DC Update 10:30 a.m. EDT May 27: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Wednesday that 72 new coronavirus infections have been reported in the area, raising the total number of cases in the area to 8,406. Bowser also announced five more people between the ages of 55 and 75 had died of COVID-19 in Washington D.C., bringing the total number of deaths in the District to 445. Wall Street opens higher on economic stimulus hopes Update 9:50 a.m. EDT May 27: Stocks opened higher Wednesday on Wall Street, led by financial stocks. Global stock markets rose after the European Union proposed more economic stimulus. European markets rose Wednesday after the EU commission proposed a new 750 billion-euro ($825 billion) package of financial aid meant to help the region’s economy recover from what is already considered the deepest recession in living memory. Benchmarks in Shanghai and Hong Kong, however, retreated after the White House said a proposed national security law might jeopardize the Chinese territory’s status as a global financial center. Fauci says he wears a face covering to protect self, others and set an example Update 9:45 a.m. EDT May 27: The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Wednesday that he’s been wearing a face covering anytime he’s outside to protect himself and others and to set an example. “I do it when I’m in public for the reasons that ... I want to protect myself and protect others and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing that we should be doing,” Fauci said during an interview on CNN. Fauci noted that masks are “not 100% effective” at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, however, he said “It’s sort of (like showing) respect for another person and (having) that other person respect you.” “You wear a mask, they wear a mask -- you protect each other,”he said. National Women’s Soccer League to resume play in June Update 8:55 a.m. EDT May 27: Officials with the National Women’s Soccer League announced Wednesday that the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup will begin next month, marking a return to play for the league’s nine teams. The 25-game tournament will kick off June 27 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. Officials said the games will be played without spectators. “As our country begins to safely reopen and adjust to our collective new reality, and with the enthusiastic support of our players, owners, as well as our new and current commercial partners, the NWSL is thrilled to bring professional soccer back to the United States,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement. Officials said the tournament in June will be the league’s first competition since the 2019 NWSL Championship, in which the North Carolina Courage defeated the Chicago Red Stars to be named champions for the second consecutive year. Global deaths near 351K, total cases soar past 5.6M Update 7:47 a.m. EDT May 27: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 350,876 early Wednesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 5,614,458 people worldwide. Meanwhile, 13 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 84,103.  The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows: • The United States has reported 1,681,418 cases, resulting in 98,929 deaths. • Brazil has recorded 391,222 cases, resulting in 24,512 deaths. • Russia has confirmed 370,680 cases, resulting in 3,968 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 266,599 cases, resulting in 37,130 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 236,259 cases, resulting in 27,117 deaths. • Italy has reported 230,555 cases, resulting in 32,955 deaths. • France has confirmed 182,847 cases, resulting in 28,533 deaths. • Germany has reported 181,293 cases, resulting in 8,386 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 158,762 cases, resulting in 4,397 deaths • India has recorded 151,876 cases, resulting in 4,346 deaths. Google plans to reopen some offices in July as coronavirus fears linger Update 7:29 a.m. EDT May 27: Specifics were sparse, but Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees Tuesday that the company plans to reopen “more buildings in more cities” starting July 6, CNN reported. Employees at the unspecified locations will return, but only about 10% building occupancy will be allowed in the beginning, ramping up to 30% capacity by September, the network reported. “We’ll have rigorous health and safety measures in place to ensure social distancing and sanitization guidelines are followed, so the office will look and feel different than when you left” Pichai wrote in a blog post, adding, “Our goal is to be fair in the way we allocate time in the office, while limiting the number of people who come in, consistent with safety protocols.' New CDC guidance reveals COVID-19 antibody tests fail about half the time Update 7:02 a.m. EDT May 27: Antibody tests intended to detect if subjects have been infected previously with the novel coronavirus might provide accurate results only half the time, according to the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. According to the new intelligence, “Antibodies in some persons can be detected within the first week of illness onset,” but the results are not consistently accurate enough to base important policy decisions on their outcomes. “(Antibody) test results should not be used to make decisions about grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities ... (Antibody) test results should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace,” the CDC warned. Lawmakers urge suspension of Trump’s July 4 military parade amid pandemic Update 6:09 a.m. EDT May 27: Calling the scheduled event a “vanity project,” members of Congress representing the capital region petitioned the defense and interior departments Tuesday to suspend plans for U.S. President Donald Trump’s second annual July 4 military parade, The Washington Post reported. Muriel E. Bowser, mayor of the District of Columbia, is preparing to reopen portions of the nation’s capital, while both Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan have already relaxed some social distancing policies, yet stay-at-home orders remain in place in all three areas. “Given the current COVID-19 crisis, we believe such an event would needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans,' they wrote in the letter to the department chiefs. “Further, this event would come at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars while we are facing an unprecedented economic downturn due to the pandemic.” Read the lawmakers’ complete letter to the defense and interior departments. “The American people have shown tremendous courage and spirit in the fight against this global pandemic just as our forefathers did in the fight to secure our independence, and both deserve celebration on America’s birthday this year,” White House spokesman Judd Deere wrote in an email to the Post. Worldwide coronavirus deaths top 350K Update 4:46 a.m. EDT May 27: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 350,752 early Wednesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. The United States – with nearly 1.7 million cases, resulting in 98,929 deaths to date – remains the nation with the highest number of infections and virus-related deaths. Brazil now reports the second-highest number of cases worldwide with 391,222, while the United Kingdom’s 37,130 virus-related deaths rank as second highest globally. Trump gives NC governor 1 week to decide if RNC stays in Charlotte amid coronavirus concerns Update 3:27 a.m. EDT May 27: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday dismissed President Donald Trump’s tweets threatening to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte. “I’m not surprised by anything I see on Twitter,” Cooper said. “It’s OK for political conventions to be political, but pandemic response cannot be.” According to WSOC-TV, the governor said state health officials will continue to work with convention organizers to draft guidelines that will ensure the event can be conducted safely during the coronavirus pandemic. In a series of tweets Monday morning, the president threatened to pull the event out of North Carolina if Cooper doesn’t immediately sign off on allowing a full-capacity gathering in August, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus has infected more than 62K US health care workers, CDC reports Update 2:10 a.m. EDT May 27: An estimated 62,344 health care professionals in the United States have contracted the novel coronavirus to date, resulting in at least 291 deaths, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed. The latest figures represent a nearly seven-fold increase in less than six weeks. According to CNN, the CDC last highlighted the number of cases among health care workers April 15, revealing a total of 9,282 cases at that time. US coronavirus cases approach 1.7M, deaths near 99K Update 12:40 a.m. EDT May 27: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged toward 1.7 million early Wednesday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,681,212 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 98,916 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 363,836 cases and 29,302 deaths and New Jersey with 155,764 cases and 11,194 deaths. Massachusetts, with 93,693 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,473, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 113,195. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Five other states have now confirmed at least 52,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 99,684 cases, resulting in 3,823 deaths • Pennsylvania: 72,778 cases, resulting in 5,163 deaths • Texas: 57,230 cases, resulting in 1,546 deaths • Michigan: 55,104 cases, resulting in 5,266 deaths • Florida: 52,255 cases, resulting in 2,259 deaths Meanwhile, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 41,000 cases; Virginia, Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 32,000 cases; Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases, followed by Iowa with 17,703 and Arizona with 16,864; Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases, followed by Rhode Island with 14,210 and Mississippi with 13,731; Nebraska and Missouri each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 10,416; Kansas and Delaware each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; Kentucky, Utah, the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 7,130; Arkansas and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • An Oregon woman decided to sew some face coverings for her fellow employees. When they gave her money for them, she decided to play a Keno-8 spot ticket. Lorna Hewitt has never been so lucky. She won $126,784.70 in the Oregon Lottery game and claimed her prize Tuesday, lottery officials said in a news release. The winnings came at a good time for Hewitt, who was working part time at a grocery store in Sisters after being laid off from her job as a waitress because of the coronavirus pandemic. “I don’t play a lot, but thought I was doing something to help, maybe I would win,” Hewitt, of Sisters, told lottery officials. After taking a job at the grocery store, Hewitt said she got the idea to make masks. Her coworkers liked the idea. “They liked them so much, they started giving me some money for them,” Hewitt said. “So, I started selling them, because my boss couldn’t order any more, there was a shortage.” So, she made the masks and then made a small investment in the Keno 8-spot game. But when she won, Hewitt said she felt a little guilty. “I was making the masks with fabric I already had, and I just happen to get in at a good time,” Hewitt told lottery officials. After claiming her cash prize, Hewitt went to a fabric store in Salem to buy supplies for more masks. “My masks are popular, and I want to keep making them – and maybe some other things,” Hewitt said.