TPM News

Lawyer For Plaintiffs In Landmark SCOTUS Case On Gay Rights Explains Why They Won


During an interview on MSNBC, Karlan said the blockbuster decision “follows directly from the text of Title VII” in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

“Title VII says you can’t fire a worker because of that worker’s sex,” she explained. “If you have two workers named Bobby, one of whom is male and one is female, and you fire the male worker named Bobby because he marries somebody named Pete but you don’t fire the female worker for marrying somebody named Pete, that’s sex discrimination, pure and simple.”

The attorney asserted that the six justices who sided with her clients, including Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch, “took the text of Title VII seriously” instead of basing their decision on what the lawmakers behind the Civil Rights Act may have intended.

“Because whatever [the lawmakers] intended to do, the words they wrote cover lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers the same as every other worker,” Karlan said.

As to why Gorsuch made the surprising move and even wrote the majority opinion, Karlan said that “textualists” like Gorsuch will put aside personal politics to follow the law as written.

“Justice Gorsuch was not making a statement about what he would have done if he had been in Congress in 1964,” the lawyer said. “He was making a statement about what the words Congress used in 1964 mean.”

Watch Karlan below:

About The Author


Cristina Cabrera is a newswriter at TPM based in New York. She previously worked for Vocativ, USA Today and New York 1 News. She received her B.A at NYU. You can reach her at