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The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard highly anticipated cases on whether federal civil rights law should apply to LGBT people, with Chief Justice John Roberts questioning how doing so would affect employers.

In the first of two cases, the justices heard arguments on whether a federal law banning job discrimination on the basis of sex should also protect sexual orientation. Lower courts have split on the issue. A related case on transgender employees is also being heard Tuesday.

Roberts, a possible swing vote in the cases, wondered about the implications of what he described as an expansion of the job-discrimination law.

“If we’re going to be expanding the definition of what ‘sex’ covers, what do we do about that issue?” Roberts asked.

Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative, suggested that the high court would be usurping the role of Congress by reading protection for sexual orientation into the 1964 Civil Rights Act, when lawmakers at the time likely envisioned they were doing no such thing.

“You’re trying to change the meaning of ‘sex,’” he said.

Justice Elena Kagan, a liberal, suggested sexual orientation is a clear subset of sex discrimination, saying that a man who loves other men cannot be treated differently by an employer than a woman who loves men.

The cases Tuesday are the court’s first on LGBT rights since Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement and replacement by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Kennedy was a voice for gay rights and the author of the landmark ruling in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States. Kavanaugh generally is regarded as more conservative.



Aimee Stephens lost her job at a suburban Detroit funeral home and she could lose her Supreme Court case over discrimination against transgender people. Amid her legal fight, her health is failing.

But seven years after Stephens thought seriously of suicide and six years after she announced that she would henceforth be known as Aimee instead of Anthony, she has something no one can take away.

The Supreme Court will hear Stephens' case Oct. 8 over whether federal civil rights law that bars job discrimination on the basis of sex protects transgender people. Other arguments that day deal with whether the same law covers sexual orientation.

The cases are the first involving LGBT rights since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's gay-rights champion and decisive vote on those issues. They probably won't be decided before spring, during the 2020 presidential campaign.

The 58-year-old Stephens plans to attend the arguments despite dialysis treatments three times a week to deal with kidney failure and breathing problems that require further treatment. She used a walker the day she spoke to AP at an LGBT support center in the Ferndale suburb north of Detroit.



Bulgaria's highest court says it will look into a petition by the chief prosecutor to revoke the parole by a lower court to an Australian man convicted of fatally stabbing a Bulgarian student during a 2007 brawl.

The Supreme Court of Cassation announced Thursday it will hold a hearing Oct. 23 to review a lower court's ruling to grant parole to Jock Palfreeman. The Australian man had served 11 years of his 20-year prison sentence when a three-judge Court of Appeals panel unexpectedly ordered him freed last Thursday.

The 32-year-old left prison but was transferred to an immigration detention facility to await a new passport from the nearest Australian Embassy, in Athens.

The release of the Australian has sparked angry reactions among Bulgarians, who accused the judiciary of double standards and a leniency toward foreigners.

Palfreeman's lawyer, Kalin Angelov, said he had advised Australian authorities to speed up the passport and put Palfreeman on a plane home.

The new development, however, means that Palfreeman has to remain in custody pending the supreme court's ruling and "for his personal security," according to Deputy Interior Minister Stefan Balabanov.

Dozens of relatives and friends of the slain student rallied Thursday in downtown Sofia to protest Palfreeman's parole.



A divided Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a state law invalidating a Cleveland requirement that public construction contractors hire city residents for a portion of work on projects.

A 2003 Cleveland ordinance mandates that residents must perform 20% of the total hours on public construction projects over $100,000.

The GOP-controlled Legislature approved a bill in 2016 stripping local governments of the ability to impose such residency requirements on contractors. The high court on Tuesday sided with the state in a 4-3 decision.

Mayor Frank Jackson says the city will ask the Court to reconsider the ruling immediately.

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley says the ruling is an attack on "the ability of cities to help life people out of poverty and establish careers.




The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that a lawsuit filed over the Rams' departure from St. Louis will be heard in a St. Louis courtroom, a defeat for the NFL team's owner who sought to send the case to arbitration.

The court issued its ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by St. Louis city and county and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which owns the domed stadium where the Rams formerly played. It named Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who moved the team to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, the NFL and league owners.

It wasn't immediately clear if an appeal was planned. Messages left Wednesday with the Rams, Kroenke's attorney and the NFL were not immediately returned

The lawsuit alleged that the Rams' departure violated a 1984 league guideline that was established after the Raiders moved from Oakland to Los Angeles. The league, the Rams and Kroenke have argued that the disagreements should be settled behind closed doors in arbitration.

The suit seeks financial damages, but a win for the city, county and dome authority would not return the team to St. Louis.

The Rams' departure left a bitter taste in St. Louis, which lost an NFL team for the second time in 30 years ? the Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1987.

Last month, a judge gave preliminary approval to the settlement of a separate suit filed on behalf of fans who bought St. Louis Rams tickets and team merchandise. The settlement could be worth up to $25 million. The


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