On Wednesday, February 28, 2024, Reuters reported that Diane Sykes, the chief judge of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote a letter in response to complaints from two Republican senators regarding diversity policies implemented by three federal judges in Illinois.

The letter addressed concerns raised by Senators John Kennedy of Louisiana and Ted Cruz of Texas about orders issued in 2020 by District Judges Nancy Rosenstengel, Staci Yandle, and David Dugan in Illinois’ Southern District. The orders encouraged greater participation in oral arguments by newer, female, and minority attorneys. Under the policies, attorneys could notify the judges if a less experienced female or minority lawyer would be arguing a motion, and the judges would consider giving them extra time or allowing a senior lawyer to assist.

However, Chief Judge Sykes said she could not discuss specifics because America First Legal, a conservative legal group, had filed a misconduct complaint claiming the policies discriminate based on race and sex.

In the letter, Sykes reassured the senators that the 7th Circuit is committed to ensuring no discrimination is allowed. She cited mechanisms available for addressing potential bias, like processes for misconduct complaints or employment disputes.

The senators argued the district court policies were unconstitutional in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling ending the consideration of race in college admissions. But Sykes noted the 7th Circuit had not conducted related training and would consider legal developments’ administrative impacts.

It remains unclear how the 7th Circuit will address the allegations of discrimination in the diversity policies or whether any remedial action will be taken. Chief Judge Sykes’ letter sought to assure impartiality and anti-bias commitment while a limited investigation is ongoing due to the pending misconduct case. This story may continue to develop as that complaint proceeds.



Source: Reuters