Spurred by recent news of yet another federal judge who has been reprimanded for harassment, the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today to address sexual harassment in clerkships and the judiciary’s continued failure to stop it. The 10th Circuit has been secretive about what happened and—even more importantly—what it’s doing to prevent this from happening again. We commend the House for investigating what is happening in the 10th Circuit and encourage the Committee to take action to ensure the judiciary is a safe workplace for all.
On behalf of our chapters nationwide, People’s Parity Project submitted written testimony calling on the Committee to consider amendments to the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act. We urge the Judicial Conference to:
- Conduct a national climate survey so that the judiciary can accurately measure the extent and nature of harassment within the institution.
- Establish a national reporting avenue that requires district and circuit courts to provide anonymized reports of both formal and informal claims to the Office of Judicial Integrity.
- Enhance accountability so that review of information is available outside the judiciary, including to potential clerks.
Grace Pezzella, Georgetown University Law Center 2L and People’s Parity Project organizer, said regarding her decision to attend today’s hearing: “If the judges we depend on to safeguard our rights against harassment, racial discrimination, and gender discrimination in the workplace are themselves engaged in those behaviors in their own chambers, they have abdicated their moral and legal responsibility to provide equal justice under law. The system is not only failing its clerks, but also countless other American workers who may understandably see this as a signal that their own claims are not worth bringing.”
@GULCParity here bright & early to call for accountability in the judiciary—everyone deserve a harassment-free workplace and the courts are not above the law @HouseJudiciary pic.twitter.com/o6WMb6SrEq
— Courtney Hinkle (@cjhinklc0) February 13, 2020
Harvard Law School 3L and People’s Parity Project co-founder Emma Janger said, “No student should ever have to choose not to apply to a clerkship and give up an important educational and professional opportunity, because powerful judges are known to harass or discriminate against them. Without robust and accessible reporting mechanisms, including a climate survey to further understand the problem, future clerks and other judicial employees are unable to make informed decisions about their own careers and safety.”
Our full testimony is available here.