And considering the makeup of the court, this ruling is a game-changer:
A federal appeals court ruled for the first time Tuesday that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, setting up a likely battle before the Supreme Court as gay rights advocates push to broaden the scope of the 53-year-old law.
The 7th Circuit is considered relatively conservative and five of the eight judges in the majority were appointed by Republican presidents, making the finding all the more notable. In an opinion concurring with the majority, Judge Richard Posner wrote that changing norms call for a change in interpretation of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex.
Even if Gorsuch does get seated (which is highly probable), it will be surprising if the Supreme Court reverses this decision. I’m sure there will be some clever arguments put forward, but there simply is no justification for basing an employment decision on somebody’s sexual orientation. To decide the Civil Rights Act doesn’t apply to some classes of citizens would be an erosion of the Law itself, and I just don’t see more than two Justices throwing their weight in that direction.