The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling extending workplace discrimination protection to cover sexual orientation and gender identity was cheered by LGBTQ people and allies. Indeed, the June 15 decision represents a big win in the fight for LGBTQ equality.
But buried towards the end of a 33-page majority opinion written by conservative stalwart Justice Neil Gorsuch is a sober warning that those celebrating the decision might have initially missed.
In his reading, the religious beliefs of an employer may “supersede” the Title VII protections now being extended to the LGBTQ community in its resolution of Bostock v. Clayton County. It is an issue that courts will likely have to decide on a case-by-case basis in the future. But Gorsuch notably referred to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by Congress in 1993 to protect an individual’s practice of their faith, as a “super statute” and emphasizes the court’s mandate to uphold “the promise of the free exercise of religion enshrined in our Constitution.”