The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will hear oral arguments on March 28 in a potentially landmark trans rights case involving a teenager.
G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board will decide whether trans students will be able to use restrooms and facilities that comport with their gender identity. The case is brought by Gavin Grimm, a Virginia high school student who has been relegated to using single-stall restrooms because the school board refused to allow him to use boys' facilities.
Grimm sued the school board, but a U.S. District Court dismissed his case. A three-member appeals court panel for the Fourth Circuit disagreed with that ruling and reversed the decision. The school board tried to get the full appeals court to take the case, but they declined. That's when the Gloucester County School Board appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case but Grimm's victory on hold.
With the passing of anti-LGBT justice Antonin Scalia last year, the Supreme Court currently consists of eight members. Should the court deadlock on Grimm's case, the appeals decision will stand and that ruling could have positive ramifications for trans students around the nation.
With President Trump's nomination of conservative Colorado judge Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia's spot, Grimm's chances appear more murky. It's not clear if Gorsuch will be confirmed by March 28 and be allowed to rule on the case; it can take anywhere from three weeks to three months to confirm a justice. It's not clear if Democrats will dig in their heels on Gorsuch. Many Democrats are still seething that GOP senators blocked President Obama's choice for Scalia's replacement, centrist Merrick Garland.
While Gorsuch is known as pro-business and supportive of so-called religious freedom, his rulings on LGBT rights are scant. He lent his opinions to two trans cases. In 2015's Druley v. Patton, Gorsuch "joined an unpublished opinion ruling against a transgender inmate's constitutional claims seeking hormone treatment and re-assignment from an all-male facility," according to the Williams Institute. In 2009's Kastl v. Maricopa County Community College District, Gorsuch, "sitting by designation on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, joined an unpublished opinion that, while recognizing that a transgender person can state a claim for sex discrimination under Title VII based on a theory of gender stereotyping, ultimately ruled against the plaintiff. The employer had barred the plaintiff from using the female restroom until completing gender-confirmation surgery. The court held that 'restroom safety' was a non-discriminatory reason for the employer's decision."