By: Brad Jarka
In November 2018, we hosted our annual moot court competition and students gathered to argue whether Title VII’s prohibition on employment discrimination “because of . . . sex,” included protections for employees suffering an adverse employment action for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Six months later, and again just days ago, the United States Supreme Court took the case from moot to momentous.
The Court granted certiorari and consolidated three cases: Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, Altitude Express v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC. On June 15 this year the Court ruled, six to three, that Title VII protects LGBTQ folks from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
If you served as a judge or brief grader for our 2018 competition, you will find the discussion in all three opinions—the majority and each of two dissents—familiar. The case centers on complicated issues of statutory construction, causation, original public meaning, and hotly contested public policy. Our student competitors nonetheless anticipated and presented every argument the parties and the Court addressed.
To the students and ALA members considering participation in our competition this year, as the 2018 problem shows, what is moot today may matter tomorrow. We hone our skills as appellate advocates to protect the rights and interests of real clients at the highest levels of our court system. We hope you will join us again this November!