In a sharp rebuke to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and its finding that the sex discrimination provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covers gender identity and sexual orientation, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has ruled that only Congress or the Supreme Court can extend that protection.

“Kimberly Hively has failed to state a claim under Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for sex discrimination,” the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held in its decision in Hively’s appeals. “[H]er claim is solely for sexual orientation discrimination, which is beyond the scope of the statute.”

In making the ruling, the federal court cited legal precedent set by district courts from 1984 on that anti-LGBT discrimination is not covered by Title VII.

“Perhaps the writing is on the wall,” Judge Ilana Rovner wrote of LGBT protections, but concluded: “Until the writing comes in the form of a Supreme Court opinion or new legislation, we must adhere to the writing of our prior precedent.”

The ruling covers only the states that the 7th Circuit Court represents, but it sets up a potential Supreme Court showdown.