Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, October 8.
Hear Supreme Court arguments about LGBTQ workers' rights (2019)
03:39 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Republican senators were mostly upbeat about the landmark Supreme Court decision Monday to ban workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender Americans, and they defended conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch’s role in writing for the 6-3 majority.

“They interpreted our statute and I’m OK with it,” said Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican of Texas, who added that Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s first pick for the high court, “is a good judge.”

Sen. John Thune, the second-ranking GOP leader argued the decision “demonstrated Gorsuch’s independence.”

Thune said he had not had a chance to study the details of the case but said, “The country has obviously changed a lot on that issue. I assume he looked at the facts and the law and he came to that conclusion. When we nominated and confirmed him, that’s what we wanted him to do.”

“It’s a big deal,” said Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who has worked – unsuccessfully so far – to pass a law banning workplace discrimination against gay and transgender people.

“I don’t think people should be discriminated against, specifically, I don’t think someone should lose his or her job because they’re gay. So I like the result,” said Portman, adding that he would need to study whether Congress still needs to change the law now that there is a “Supreme Court case that speaks to the civil rights acts applying to employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Monday that he’s “OK” with the Supreme Court’s decision.

“That’s the ruling of the court. I accept it,” the Republican from South Carolina said in a brief interview.

One critic of both the decision and Gorsuch was Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican of Missouri, who complained the majority was legislating from the bench.

“My big issue with the majority opinion was that substitutes a contemporary understanding of a legal textual term for one that was written in 1964. To me, the principle of textualism, which is rooted in the separation of powers, is that the courts are bound by the meaning of the words at the time they are written, and any updating ought to be done Congress. This amounts to a form of legislation,” he told reporters in the Capitol.

Hawley was asked if he is disappointed with Gorsuch.

“I was surprised at his method of reaching a conclusion. You can tell he’s sensitive about it because he goes to some length to say, ‘No, I really am a textualist and this is a textualist approach,’” Hawley said.

Sen. Mitt Romney seemed to share Hawley’s concern that it was Congress’ role to update the law, not the Supreme Court. The Utah Republican told reporters that while he was supportive of protecting LGBTQ people’s rights not to be fired because of their sexual orientation, “I wish that decision would have been reached by Congress rather than the court.”

Some GOP senators declined to comment since they had not studied the decision.

“I haven’t seen the rulings,” said Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of the GOP leadership.

“I haven’t read the opinion,” said Sen. Todd Young on Indiana, who chairs the Senate Republican reelection committee. “I like to read major opinions before commenting on them.”

Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican of Nebraska, said she was “fine” with both the decision and Gorsuch.

“I think it’s important that we recognize that all Americans have equal rights under our Constitution,” she said. “I want to have justices who look at these cases and make decisions based on their review of the case and look at the constitution and apply it equally.”