Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Unprotected and At Risk

Here’s another reason why judicial appointments are worth filibustering over. From the Washington Post:

Special counsel Scott J. Bloch told a Senate panel yesterday that he lacks the legal authority to enforce the Bush administration’s ban on discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation.

If a federal manager fires, reassigns or takes some other action against an employee simply because that employee is gay, there is nothing in federal law that would permit the Office of Special Counsel to protect the worker, Bloch testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee on oversight of government management, the federal workforce and the District of Columbia.

“We are limited by our enforcement statutes as Congress gives them,” Bloch said, responding to a question from Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.). “The courts have specifically rejected sexual orientation as a class protection.”

[…]

Federal civil rights laws ban employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability and political affiliation. Sexual orientation is not among these “protected classes.”

When Levin asked if Bloch would recommend that Congress clarify the law so that protections for federal employees extend to sexual orientation, Bloch declined to take a position.

He may not be able to take a position, but I know where it puts gay federal employees: over a barrel, and not in a good way.