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Juror Non-Discrimination Act/Jury ACCESS Act

H.R. 312; S. 38

The Problem

During the process of jury selection, attorneys for both plaintiffs and defendants have a limited number of opportunities to strike potential jurors without providing a specific reason, through what are called “peremptory challenges.”  However, the Supreme Court has ruled using such challenges to exclude a juror because of his or her race or gender is unconstitutional.  In addition, federal law prohibits discrimination in service on a federal jury based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status.  Unfortunately, neither the Court nor federal law has yet to prohibit discrimination in jury service based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  As a result, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can be – and have been – denied the ability to serve on juries.  Such discriminatory treatment undermines the justice system and could hurt crime victims by preventing a fair trial by a jury of their peers. This could have particularly negative impacts on victims or defendants who are LGBT.
 

What is the Juror Non-Discrimination Act/Jury ACCESS Act?

The Juror Non-Discrimination Act and Jury Access for Capable Citizens and Equality in Service Selection (ACCESS) Act prohibits attorneys from seeking to strike potential federal jurors based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 
 

What is the Current Status of the Bill?

The Juror Non-Discrimination Act was reintroduced in the 113th Congress in the House of Representatives by Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) on January 18, 2013.  The Jury ACCESS Act was reintroduced in the Senate by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) on January 22, 2013. On July 25, 2013, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the language from the Jury ACCESS Act as part of the fiscal year 2014 financial services appropriations bill.

 

For more information, please contact legislation@hrc.org. Read about other Federal Legislation pertinent to the LGBT community here.

Last Updated: March 20, 2014