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NBC News Quotes Professor David Cohen on Transgender Case as Legacy Opportunity for Justice Kennedy

David S. Cohen with students

November 14, 2016

An upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision involving transgender bathrooms will put Justice Anthony Kennedy’s reputation as a gay rights champion to the test, Professor David S. Cohen said in an article published online by NBC News on Nov. 13.

"Kennedy's a conservative of a very different generation than people advocating for the 'T' in LGBT, and I think he's going to be a difficult vote to get," Cohen said.

The article notes that Kennedy has affirmed gay rights in numerous rulings since 1996, most recently authoring majority opinions in cases the overturned anti-sodomy laws and the Defense of Marriage Act but upheld marriage equality.  But less is known, Cohen said, about Kennedy’s views on transgender rights.

"Other than a little here and there around abortion, Kennedy has been very conservative on other gender cases and I think that could come through here," Cohen said.

The pending case involving transgender Virginia high school student Gavin Grimm, who seeks protection to use a school bathroom that corresponds to his gender identity, will say a lot about Kennedy in this regard, Cohen said.

"I think history will look poorly on this if Kennedy doesn't vote in favor of Grimm," he said.