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Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court on Oct. 8. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration urged the Supreme Court on Tuesday to rule that LGBTQ people can be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Where it stands: The administration's involvement in LGBTQ cases supplements a 2-year White House playbook to undo many protections the LGBTQ community secured under President Obama. One of the cases is the first to ask the court to determine the civil rights of transgender people, per the ACLU.

The big picture: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination "because of sex." The Justice Department argued in 3 cases Tuesday that those rules don't ban discrimination against LBGQ or transgender workers.

The Justice Department is at odds with its own Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the case of Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman who was fired from a funeral home because she wanted to "dress as a woman," according to the business owner's testimony. The EEOC sued on Stephens' behalf in 2014.

What they're saying: The administration argues that "Title VII’s protections apply fully to transgender individuals" when it comes to sex discrimination — women being treated worse than men, or vice versa — but "treating a transgender person less favorably than a non-transgender person" is not part of the law's protections.

  • It says there is no "evidence that the funeral home treated some or all biologically male employees less favorably than similarly situated biologically female employees."

The other side: "Congress wrote a broad statute that prohibits all sex discrimination," Chase Strangio, part of Stephens' legal team at the ACLU and a transgender activist, tells Axios. "When an employer fires someone for being transgender, no matter how sex is defined, that is discrimination because of sex."

In 2 other cases, which were argued together, the Trump administration says that Title VII doesn't cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. Both suits were filed by men who say they were fired for being gay.

  • An employer who discriminates against employees in same-sex relationships doesn't violate Title VII as long as it treats men and women in those relationships the same way, their argument says.

Yes, but: 69% of Americans — and 56% of Republicans — favor laws that would protect LGBTQ people from job and housing discrimination, a 2018 PRRI survey found.

What to watch: This issue — alongside cases on abortion access, guns and immigration — will likely come to a head next summer before the 2020 presidential election.

Go deeper: 2019's Supreme Court cases to watch

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.