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Shaheen says legislation still needed to ban jury discrimination of LGBT Americans

(Manchester, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) praised a unanimous ruling issued by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals holding that it is unconstitutional for a juror to be excluded on the basis of sexual orientation and that sexual orientation warrants the same strong legal protections in jury selection as other categories, such as women and minorities. The ruling issued by the federal appeals court today supports the concept behind Shaheen’s bipartisan Jury ACCESS (Access for Capable Citizens and Equality in Service Selection) Act that would amend the federal statute to prohibit the practice of striking jurors in federal courts on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“There is no place for discrimination in our judicial system, and it should be the right and obligation of every citizen to sit on a jury,” Shaheen said. “The appellate court’s ruling is an important step, but I will continue working to make sure no American can be excluded from this important civil responsibility on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

As it currently stands, the United States Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status during jury selection in federal courts. U.S. Code, however, does not prohibit discrimination on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Last year, a Senate Committee included the bipartisan JURY Access Act sponsored by Senator Shaheen and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Patty Murray (D-WA) in the Financial Services FY2014 Appropriations bill. The unanimous 9th Circuit Court ruling broke new legal ground in holding that sexual orientation deserves the same strong legal protections in jury selection as other categories, citing the Supreme Court's decision last year striking down a federal law denying federal benefits to same-sex couples.