WASHINGTON — Potential jurors in federal trials could not be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity under legislation approved this week by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Legislation to address the jury selection issue had been introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, Susan Collins, and Sheldon Whitehouse earlier this year to prevent discrimination against LGBT people in the federal jury selection process.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, included the language of the jury bill in the Financial Services appropriations bill during the mark up on Tuesday. The language amends the federal statute addressing nondiscrimination in jury selection to prohibit the practice of striking jurors in federal courts on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Current law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status in federal court jury selection.
"The judicial process should represent our nation's principles of inclusion and acceptance, and eliminating the discriminatory exclusion of LGBT jurors is a necessary step to meeting that goal," Shaheen said in a statement.
Collins praised the committee for its action, saying in a statement, "I am pleased that the committee has adopted our language that would prohibit potential jurors from being dismissed for service in federal trials based solely on sexual orientation or gender identity."
Chris Geidner is a Supreme Court correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
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