Anyone watching the U.S. Supreme Court knows its decision to take a major new abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is likely bad news for reproductive rights. The only reason for the court to consider the constitutionality of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban seems to be to approve it and, in doing so, to cut back on—or overturn—what remains of Roe v. Wade. Pro-choice Americans are thus right to worry about Dobbs, as pro-life Americans are right to feel hopeful. As everyone awaits developments in the case, a small possibility—capable of reconfiguring the entire landscape—dwells in an unlikely place: last year’s blockbuster LGBT rights ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County.
Justice Neil Gorsuch’s opinion in Bostock shocked many on the right, who saw it as political disloyalty for this Trump-appointed justice to side with LGBT rights. Speaking for itself, Bostock confidently maintains its conclusions follow from a “straightforward” reading of the statute it interprets, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Yet even as it explains that Title VII’s sex discrimination ban “necessarily” entails a bar against anti-gay and anti-trans discrimination by means of its “plain” terms and operations, the new reality Bostock delivers LGBT workers is built atop a powerful foundation of women’s workplace equality under law.