During Pride Month, Norton Introduces Bill to Ban Discrimination Against LGBTQ Jurors in D.C. Superior Court

Jun 8, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today, during Pride Month, reintroduced the District of Columbia Local Juror Non-Discrimination Act of 2021. The bill would clarify that D.C. residents may not be excluded or disqualified from jury service in D.C. Superior Court based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Specifically, the bill would clarify that “sex,” which is a protected class under the non-discrimination law that applies to jurors in D.C. Superior Court, includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

The District has one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country, including protecting individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, the District cannot make its anti-discrimination law applicable to jurors in D.C. Superior Court. Under the Home Rule Act, only Congress has the authority to regulate local jury service.

“District of Columbia jurors should not be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and D.C. juries should not be deprived of the service of LGBTQ residents,” Norton said. “Soon, I will introduce my bill to give D.C. control over the jurisdiction and organization of its local courts, which requires only completion and perfection of the Home Rule Act, not statehood. Until the District is given control over its local courts, it is up to Congress to pass this important LGBTQ equality bill.”

Norton’s bill is similar to the Juror Non-Discrimination Act of 2021 (H.R. 1140), which would make the same change to federal jury law. Norton is a cosponsor of H.R. 1140.

Norton’s introductory statement follows.

Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

On the Introduction of the

District of Columbia Local Juror Non-Discrimination Act of 2021

June 8, 2021

 

Ms. Norton. Madam Speaker,

            Today, I introduce the District of Columbia Local Juror Non-Discrimination Act of 2021.  This bill would clarify that D.C. residents may not be excluded or disqualified from jury service in the D.C. Superior Court based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  Specifically, my bill would clarify that “sex,” which is a protected class under the non-discrimination law that applies to jurors in the D.C. Superior Court, includes sexual orientation and gender identity.  Under the Home Rule Act, Congress has exclusive jurisdiction over title 11 of the D.C. Code (relating to organization and jurisdiction of the local D.C. courts).

            The District has one of the strongest non-discrimination laws in the country, including protecting individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  However, under the Home Rule Act, the District does not have the authority to make this non-discrimination law applicable to jurors in the D.C. Superior Court.  Therefore, until the District is given complete control over the organization and jurisdiction of its local courts, an act of Congress is required to make this important change to protect the rights of all D.C. residents.  This bill is necessary to protect jurors in the D.C. Superior Court from discrimination.

            My bill is similar to the Juror Non-Discrimination Act of 2021 (H.R. 1140), which would provide the same protections for jurors in federal court.  I am a proud cosponsor of that bill.

            I urge my colleagues to support this important bill.

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