HUGE VICTORY – U.S. District Court Judges Rescind Discriminatory Policies Following AFL’s Judicial Complaint

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) announced a vital win in the fight for the Constitution and the rule of law when Chief Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel and Judge Staci M. Yandle rescinded their standing orders favoring minority and female attorneys solely based on their race and sex, and apologized, following AFL’s judicial conduct complaint.

AFL’s complaint, dated January 25, 2024, alleged that three judges in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois had issued standing orders mandating preferential treatment for the female and minority attorneys arguing before them, in violation of the Rule for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings 4(a), Judicial Code of Conduct Canon 2(A), and the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Specifically, the discriminatory orders provided that: 

  1. “[a]fter a motion is fully briefed,..a party may alert the Court that, if argument is granted, it intends to have a newer, female, or minority attorney argue the motion (or a portion of the motion).” 
  2. Following the request, the court “will,” among other things, (1) “grant the request…if practicable” and (2) “strongly consider allocating additional time for oral argument beyond what the Court may have otherwise allocated” but for the sex or race of the lawyer.

Following AFL’s complaint, Chief Judge Rosenstengel and Judge Yandle “acknowledged the problem and took voluntary action to correct it.” They “rescinded the standing orders in question and removed references to ‘women and underrepresented minorities’ from the ‘Oral Argument’ sections of their case-management procedures.”

The third Judge, Judge David W. Dugan, had also issued a discriminatory standing order. As of the date of AFL’s complaint, this order was still available on the court’s servers through a simple Google search. However, he removed the illegal preferences on or about October 14, 2022. 

As the Judicial Council of the United States Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit said: 

This is an important victory for our Constitution and the rule of law. America First Legal will keep fighting to protect our bedrock pro-American principles and to vindicate every American citizen’s right to equality under the law.  

Statement from Gene Hamilton, America First Legal Executive Director, Executive Vice President, and General Counsel: 

“The legal community plays a vital role in our democratic republic—ensuring that disputes are resolved in an unbiased manner based on the facts and the law in each individual case. When judges do things that provide benefits to litigants based on immutable characteristics—like race and sex—they tear at the fabric that holds our society together. We applaud these moves to rescind these illegal policies, and will continue to fight for equality under the law for all Americans wherever we can,” said Gene Hamilton.

Read AFL’s complaint here, and the report from the Judicial Conference of the Seventh Circuit here.

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