ACLU, South Dakota attorney general at odds over Supreme Court case

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - The United States Supreme Court is divided over a question of civil rights and whether federal laws protect the LGBTQ community from on the job discrimination. The court is reviewing three cases involving the firings of two gay men and a transgender woman in Georgia, New York, and Michigan.

South Dakota attorney general Jason Ravnsborg joined fourteen other states in signing a brief asking the high court to rule against the three individuals.

"I think when Jason signed it, he should've looked into it a little bit deeper," Adam Jorgensen, South Dakota ACLU communications associate, said. "Because I know, attorney generals sign on to numerous briefs throughout their career. But, I think this one warranted a little bit more thought."

Inside the nearly 40 page U.S. Supreme Court brief, you'll find that all of those who signed the letter interpret existing law as protecting people from discrimination based on their sex, but not their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Jorgensen says it's not that simple. Saying the LGBTQ community is anxious that the high court could open the door for legalized discrimination against them.

"People are concerned about this because they are afraid they might be fired from work because of who they are and who they love," he said. "Thankfully, for me growing up in South Dakota as a gay person, I haven't worried about that because I've been lucky in my careers. But, I know a lot of people don't feel that way."

A statement from Attorney General Ravnsborg says in part: "It is troubling that the ACLU would put out a press release filled with misinformation." He continues saying: "The ACLU further muddies the waters by stating the only purpose of the suit is to make it legal to fire LGBTQ people. The ACLU is trying to read the result they desire into the law from 1964."

"I just think him signing on to this just is saying directly to LGBTQ+ people that this elected office doesn't believe we should be free from discrimination," Jorgensen said. "And I think signing onto this case didn't do anything positive for South Dakota."

We will not know a ruling on these cases until June of 2020 at the earliest.

Here is Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg's full statement:

"It is troubling that the ACLU would put out a press release filled with misinformation to the point of stating that "officials in South Dakota filed a brief asking the court to rule against the three individuals who had been fired for being LGBTQ" when their own link within that statement takes you to the amicus brief prepared and filed by Tennessee, Nebraska and Texas, to which South Dakota signed onto.

The ACLU further muddies the waters by stating that the only purpose of the suit is to make it legal to fire LGBTQ people.

The ACLU, in 2019, is trying to read the result they desire into the law from 1964. An actual reading of the brief and its arguments reveals that the basis of this case rests with the definition of "sex" as it exists in Title VII as written in 1964. As stated in the Summary of the Argument within the brief "Title VII prohibits only "sex" discrimination, and the plain meaning of "sex" is biological status as male or female, not sexual orientation or gender identity."

I am confident the learned minds of the United States Supreme Court will see through the half-truths and mischaracterizations put forth by the ACLU."