WASHINGTON — Attorneys would not be able to exclude potential jurors from hearing cases in federal court because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender if legislation introduced in the Senate this week becomes law.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, joined by Sens. Sheldon Whithouse and Susan Collins, reintroduced the legislation earlier this week.
Currently, federal jurors cannot be chosen or excluded from service based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or economic status. The legislation would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list.
In a statement, Shaheen told BuzzFeed, "Our country is founded on the principles of inclusion, acceptance, and equality. The jury selection process in federal courts should reflect those principles. We simply can't tolerate discrimination against a potential juror because of sexual orientation or gender identity."
The legislation is endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign and the National LGBT Bar Association.
HRC legislative director Allison Herwitt thanked the group of lawmakers for introducing the bill, saying, "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."
Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.