The Supreme Court, in a victory for homosexuals fighting employment discrimination, ruled Wednesday that federal courts can review a decision by the CIA to fire a gay employee.
In a 6-2 decision by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the court held that a homosexual employee of the spy agency may bring a claim in federal court charging his dismissal violated his constitutional rights.The action sends the issue back to lower courts to decide if the employee's rights were violated.
The case is one of the few on the issue of homosexual rights to reach the court. While the court has upheld state laws making homosexual acts criminal, it has not spoken on whether a federal agency may discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation.
Wednesday's ruling did not touch that question directly but did give the employee the right to press the claim in federal court, a necessary first step. Similar claims are working their way through the system.
The court pointed out that constitutional claims are already brought to trial despite federal laws giving a CIA director wide powers to fire employees when he feels it necessary.
In another action, the court reaffirmed its 1966 Miranda decision, ruling 6-2 that a suspect who has invoked his right to a lawyer may not be questioned by police about a crime unrelated to the initial arrest.
The court also ruled that Kansas has a right to apply its statute of limitations in a dispute over gas royalties with neighboring states.