How a Ruling on Gay and Transgender Rights May Help the Climate

Read the full story in the New York Times’ Climate Fwd newsletter.

Did the Supreme Court just give a boost to climate lawsuits?

This month, the court declared that a major piece of civil rights legislation protects gay and transgender people from discrimination at work. That landmark case, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, rested on the meaning of a broad statute, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars workplace discrimination because of sex and other factors.

Neil M. Gorsuch, the conservative justice who wrote for the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling, said that the definition of sex in that broadly conceived law includes being gay or transgender, even if those who drafted the original legislation did not foresee that specific question.

“The limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands,” Justice Gorsuch wrote.

What does that have to do with climate change? Potentially a lot, according to Ann E. Carlson, an expert on climate change law at the University of California, Los Angeles. She wrote a blog post that said the decision “provides potent ammunition” for using the Clean Air Act to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

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