IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trans-Rights Court Hearing Set Amid Fight Over Trump Nominee

The Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments in a major dispute on transgender rights -- Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board -- for March 28.
Surpreme Court will hear Virginia school case regarding transgender student
Gavin Grimm, who identifies as a transgender boy, is requesting to be allowed to use the boys' restroom at Gloucester High School. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear his case.Jonathon Gruenke / TNS via Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday scheduled oral arguments in a major dispute on transgender rights for March 28, when the U.S. Senate is set to be in the midst of a political fight over President Donald Trump's nominee to a vacant seat on the bench.

By March, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate is likely to be deliberating on whether to approve Neil Gorsuch, a conservative federal appeals court judge from Colorado, to the court. Where Gorsuch stands on social issues like transgender rights is likely to be a much-discussed question during the confirmation process.

Republicans are hoping the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings and votes on the nomination by late March, paving the way for a vote in the full Senate the first week of April, before the chamber begins a two week spring recess, according to Senate aides.

In the transgender case, in which the eight-justice court could be split 4-4 without a ninth vote, a Virginia public school district is fighting to prevent a transgender high school student from using the boys' bathroom. The dispute involves a student named Gavin Grimm, who identifies as male and sued in 2015 to win the right to use the school's boys' bathroom.

At the heart of the case is the question of whether transgender people are covered by a ban on gender discrimination in education under federal law. The administration of former President Barack Obama said it was. The Trump administration has not yet weighed in.

Until the Senate approves a nominee, the court remains one justice short following the February death of Antonin Scalia, which left it with four conservatives and four liberals. That raises the possibility of a 4-4 ruling that would leave in place the decision favoring Grimm by the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A 4-4 ruling would set no nationwide legal precedent. It is also possible that the court could rehear the case if Gorsuch is confirmed.

Follow NBC Out on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.