Top quotes from the Bostock v. Clayton County Supreme Court opinion and dissents

June 15, 2020

Today, the Supreme Court ruled in three consolidated cases styled Bostock v. Clayton County, in which the justices considered whether or not the term “sex” will extend to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”  In a 6-3 ruling, the court expanded the definition of “sex” to include both under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

When this legislation was passed in 1964, it is not seriously disputed that Congress intended the bill to address discrimination on the basis of biological sex. In the decades since, Congress has considered various kinds of civil rights legislation and has never voted to expand or redefine the term “sex” in the way considered by the court today. Today’s decision redefines the meaning of the word in law, despite the majority acknowledging the sweeping significance of this expansion of the scope of the Civil Rights Act.

The ERLC filed an amicus brief in these cases alongside other religious institutions contending that "sex" in Title VII does not include either classification of orientation or identity. 

Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch joined Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer in the majority, while Justices Alito, Kavanaugh, and Thomas dissented. 

Below are key quotes from both the majority opinion and the dissents highlighting how the court reached their decision. The quotes are organized by topics the justices covered in their writings. Page numbers from the court’s decision are given for each quote, but legal citations are omitted for clarity of reading.

Why the case was heard

Majority Opinion: Justice Gorsuch, joined by Chief Justice Roberts as well as Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer

The new rule

The court’s reasoning

Unanswered questions

Dissents: Justice Alito, joined by Justice Thomas; and Justice Kavanaugh

Definition of “sex” 

Understanding the historical context of “sex”

Legislating from the bench

Future implications