The Supreme Court today issued a split decision severely limiting the ability of victims of age discrimination to obtain justice under federal law. The majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, was joined by the rightwing bloc of the Court, as well as by Justice Kennedy.
“This is an obvious example of blatant judicial activism from the ultra-conservative wing of the Supreme Court,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way. “The Court ignored the clear meaning of the law and simply rewrote it to achieve the policy result they wanted. This decision makes it far more difficult in the real world to prove discrimination. It’s Lilly Ledbetter all over again.”
In the decision, which Justice Stevens in dissent characterized as “an unabashed display of judicial lawmaking” by the Court, the majority reached out to decide an issue that wasn’t briefed, and that the Justice Department had urged the Court not to decide. The decision results in a new interpretation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act that further burdens older workers attempting to remedy workplace discrimination because of their age.
“The Roberts Court’s willingness to ignore precedent and second guess Congress is mind-boggling. This proves that the conservative mantra of not wanting judges who legislate from the bench is utter nonsense: they want result-oriented judges who reach decisions that they like,” said Baker. “This decision is an unwelcome reminder of why we need common sense jurists like Sonia Sotomayor on the bench who will adhere to the rule of law and put principle ahead of politics.”
Today’s decision came in the case Gross v. FBL Financial Services.
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