Feb 07 2024
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, sent a letter to the chief judge of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals regarding discriminatory standing orders issued by three judges on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
These three judges have issued nearly identical standing orders implementing a policy that prioritizes granting oral argument to “newer, female, and minority attorneys.” This facially discriminatory policy jeopardizes the integrity of the U.S. legal system.
“While the standing orders contain minor variations, each establishes a policy under which oral argument requests are granted based on an attorney’s race or sex rather than the substantive merits of the case or the importance of oral argument in clarifying the issue before the court,” wrote Kennedy and Cruz.
“This policy is both unethical and unconstitutional. That is especially true in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which instructs that ‘[r]acial discrimination [is] invidious in all contexts’ and that ‘eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.’ Under these standing orders, however, a party that wishes to have the attorney of their choice argue a motion risks being deprived of oral argument if that attorney is an experienced white male, but is assured of oral argument ‘if it is at all practicable to do so’ if that attorney is female or a racial or ethnic minority,” they explained.
The senators note that the policies of these judges suggest ongoing judicial race and sex discrimination, in violation of the Fifth Amendment and judicial codes of conduct. They ask the chief judge’s assistance in addressing the discriminatory policies.
“Depriving parties of their right to oral argument based on the sex or race of the attorney undermines the principles of impartiality, fairness, due process, and the equal protection under the law upon which our judicial system is built. It is unfortunate that the federal taxpayer has, in part, supported such discriminatory conduct,” concluded the senators.
The full letter is available here.