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Monday, September 24, 2012

Senators introduce bill to ban LGBT discrimination in jury selection

Senator Shaheen
A bipartisan group of Senators, including Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-NH), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), introduced the Jury ACCESS (Access for Capable Citizens and Equality in Service Selection) Act, which would ban discrimination in federal jury selection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As Senator Shaheen explained, “[d]iscriminating against a potential juror because of sexual orientation or gender identity is unacceptable, and it should not be tolerated. Our country is founded on principles of inclusion and acceptance and the jury selection process should be no different.”

Currently, while federal law bans discrimination in jury selection on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status, discrimination against potential jurors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is not prohibited. Among the states, only California and Oregon ban exclusion from jury service on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in state court.

LGBT organizations applauded the bipartisan legislation. Allison Herwitt, with the Human Rights Campaign, expressed HRC’s support, saying, “[a]rbitrary and discriminatory exclusion of LGBT jurors has no place in our federal courts. We appreciate the bipartisan leadership of Senators Shaheen, Collins and Whitehouse to help ensure every American is guaranteed the right to be judged by a jury of his or her peers.”

Alliance for Justice strongly supports the Jury ACCESS Act, which is a step to ensuring that all Americans have equal access and participation in our justice system.

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