Capitol Police remove two suspicious packages in front of Supreme Court

Demonstrators are arrested as they block the street outside the Supreme Court during oral arguments in three cases on LGBTQ discrimination protections in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Oct. 8 (UPI) — U.S. Capitol Police removed two suspicious packages from in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning as arguments were set to begin in an LGBT rights case.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said the packages were found close to the Supreme Court, near the intersection between the court, the Capitol and the Library of Congress about 8 a.m.

Police cleared protesters from around the building after the packages were located, forcing authorities to close some streets in the immediate vicinity around the Supreme Court. The packages were eventually removed without incident.

Authorities said they did not have to evacuate the Supreme Court itself and things returned to normal by 10 a.m.

The Supreme Court was expected to hear arguments in the case of a transgender employee who was fired from a Detroit-area funeral home after informing the owner of plans to transition from male to female and began dressing as a woman.

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The court will decide whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people against discrimination based on their gender identity, which could have wide-ranging implications on current protections for the LGBT community and employment.

“The argument that we have made, and that a number of lower courts have accepted, is that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and discrimination on the basis of transgender status are essentially subsets of sex discrimination,” said David Cole, legal director of the ACLU, which is defending the plaintiff.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative firm representing the funeral home owner, has argued that it is up to Congress to determine if sexual orientation and gender identity should be protected under the civil rights law and not the courts.

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