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Photo: Ken Cedeno/Corbis via Getty Images

The Department of Justice told the Supreme Court in a brief Wednesday that federal law does not shield transgender workers from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity — a position that conflicts the view of the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission.

The big picture: The Justice Department under President Trump has previously argued against protections for gender identity and sexual orientation. The brief follows a New York Times report this week that said the Trump administration plans to define "gender" as biological and fixed at birth.

The details: A conservative group is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that said a Michigan funeral home violated a federal anti-discrimination law when it fired a transgender worker over compliance with its dress code.

  • Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the court it should not take up the case until it decides whether to review two cases that ask whether sexual-orientation bias is a form of sex discrimination.
  • Francisco argued that if the court takes up the case, the transgender employee should lose, because anti-discrimination law does not cover gender identity.

The backdrop: There has been conservative legal efforts to cement “religious liberty” laws that would allow businesses and others to refuse service to LGBTQ people without violating federal law.

  • The Supreme Court is eventually expected to decide whether the Civil Rights Act’s ban on sex discrimination includes discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Go deeper

The social media addiction bubble

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Right now, everyone from Senate leaders to the makers of Netflix's popular "Social Dilemma" is promoting the idea that Facebook is addictive.

Yes, but: Human beings have raised fears about the addictive nature of every new media technology since the 18th century brought us the novel, yet the species has always seemed to recover its balance once the initial infatuation wears off.

Young people's next big COVID test

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Young, healthy people will be at the back of the line for coronavirus vaccines, and they'll have to maintain their sense of urgency as they wait their turn — otherwise, vaccinations won't be as effective in bringing the pandemic to a close.

The big picture: "It’s great young people are anticipating the vaccine," said Jewel Mullen, associate dean for health equity at the University of Texas. But the prospect of that enthusiasm waning is "a cause for concern," she said.

8 hours ago - World

New Zealand authorities charge 13 parties over deadly volcano eruption

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at New Zealand's parliament in Wellington. Photo: Mark Tantrum Photography via Getty Images

New Zealand authorities laid safety violation charges Monday against 10 organizations and three individuals over the fatal Whakaari/White Island volcanic disaster last December, per a statement from the agency WorksSafe.

Details: WorksSafe declined to name those charged as they may seek name suppression in court. But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said government agencies GNS Science, which monitors volcanic activity, and the National Emergency Management Agency were among those charged over the "horrific tragedy" that killed 22 people.