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Tuesday October 22nd, 2019 8:43PM

The Latest: High court appears split over LGBT rights

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Supreme Court arguments over LGBT rights (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

A seemingly divided Supreme Court is considering whether federal civil rights law protects LGBT people from job discrimination.

Justice Neil Gorsuch said in arguments Wednesday that the case seems close, but he wonders whether the justices should consider "the massive social upheaval" that might follow a ruling in favor of LGBT employees.

The court's four liberal justices appeared likely to vote that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex should encompass both sexual orientation and transgender status.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs would need one additional vote to prevail. Gorsuch is one possibility. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not squarely indicate their views.

11:30 a.m.

Supreme Court justices are mulling what the impact would be if they ruled that federal civil rights law protects LGBT people from job discrimination.

The court is hearing arguments Tuesday in two closely watched LGBT cases.

In the first case, Chief Justice John Roberts wondered, if the court finds that sexual orientation is covered by civil rights law, whether there should be exemptions for employers with sincerely held religious beliefs.

Roberts is considered a possible swing vote on the issue.

The second case will examine whether transgender individuals are protected under the law.

The cases Tuesday are the court's first on LGBT rights since Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement and replacement by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Kennedy was a voice for gay rights while Kavanaugh is regarded as more conservative.

___

12:15 a.m.

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in two of the term's most closely watched cases over whether federal civil rights law protects LGBT people from job discrimination.

The cases Tuesday are the court's first on LGBT rights since Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement and replacement by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Kennedy was a voice for gay rights while Kavanaugh is regarded as more conservative.

The issue is whether a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bars discrimination in employment because of sex covers LGBT people.

A ruling for employees who were fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity would have a big impact across the country because most states don't protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination.

A decision is expected by early summer 2020.

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