Transgender court hearing set amid fight over Trump nominee

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By Lawrence Hurley

<span class="articleLocation”>The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday scheduled oral
arguments in a major dispute on transgender rights for March 28,
when the U.S. Senate is set to be in the midst of a political
fight over President Donald Trump’s nominee to a vacant seat on
the bench.

By March, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate is likely to
be deliberating on whether to approve Neil Gorsuch, a
conservative federal appeals court judge from Colorado, to the
court. Where Gorsuch stands on social issues like transgender
rights is likely to be a much-discussed question during the
confirmation process.

Republicans are hoping the Senate Judiciary Committee holds
hearings and votes on the nomination by late March, paving the
way for a vote in the full Senate the first week of April,
before the chamber begins a two week spring recess, according to
Senate aides.

In the transgender case, in which the eight-justice court
could be split 4-4 without a ninth vote, a Virginia public
school district is fighting to prevent a female-born transgender
high school student from using the boys’ bathroom. The dispute
involves a transgender student named Gavin Grimm, who identifies
as male and sued in 2015 to win the right to use the school’s
boys’ bathroom.

At the heart of the case is the question of whether
transgender people are covered by a ban on gender discrimination
in education under federal law. The administration of former
President Barack Obama said it was. The Trump administration has
not yet weighed in.

Until the Senate approves a nominee, the court remains one
justice short following the February death of Antonin Scalia,
which left it with four conservatives and four liberals. That
raises the possibility of a 4-4 ruling that would leave in place
the decision favoring Grimm by the Richmond-based 4th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals. A 4-4 ruling would set no nationwide
legal precedent. It is also possible that the court could rehear
the case if Gorsuch is confirmed.



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