Federal Judges Slapped With Conduct Complaint For Prioritizing ‘Newer, Female And Minority’ Attorneys

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Three federal judges are facing a judicial conduct complaint for establishing policies to grant oral arguments based on the attorney’s race and sex.

America First Legal (AFL) filed complaints Thursday against three judges on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Chief Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel, Judge Staci M. Yandle and Judge David W. Dugan for orders issued in 2020 that prioritize granting oral arguments for “newer, female, and minority attorneys.” The policies “intentionally discriminate, evidence judicial bias, and undermine public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary,” the complaint argues.

“Those policies constitute judicial misconduct because they unlawfully discriminate, evidence judicial bias, undermine faith in the judiciary’s integrity, and violate the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment,” AFL’s complaint, filed with 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sykes, states. “I ask that you carefully consider the contents of this complaint and, upon conclusion of your review, take appropriate corrective action to ensure that no lawyer appearing before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois faces discrimination based on immutable characteristics.” (RELATED: Trendy New ‘Preferred Pronoun’ Rules For Courts Raise Serious Legal Questions, Experts Say)

The policy allows parties to alert the court when it intends to have “a newer, female, or minority attorney argue the motion,” stating that the court will grant the request for oral argument in this situation “if it is at all practicable to do so” and will “strongly consider allocating additional time” beyond what it would if another attorney were arguing.

Additionally, it allows “more experienced counsel of record” to assist the attorney who is arguing when appropriate, according to the 2020 order.

Two of the judges, Rosenstengel and Yandle, are Obama appointees. Judge Dugan was appointed by former President Donald Trump and was previously a member of the Federalist Society and the Alliance Defending Freedom, according to answers submitted during his confirmation process.

“Americans must have faith in the impartiality of the judiciary–knowing that their case will have a fair shot before a court and that they will not receive unfavorable treatment because of the immutable characteristics of the parties before the court or their counsel,” said Gene Hamilton, America First Legal Vice President and General Counsel, in a statement. “Yet, in the year 2024, we see federal courts openly using policies that treat some attorneys better than others based on the color of their skin or their sex.”

“This is intolerable and harms the public’s faith and confidence in the judiciary at large. These policies must be rescinded,” Hamilton continued.

The clerk of the court for the Southern District of Illinois did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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