On December 31st, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. announced that the Supreme Court will be tackling sexual harassment. The initiative, as Justice Roberts writes, will focus on protecting law clerks and other court employees from sexual harassment. He notes that even the federal judiciary isn't immune to the issue.
As the Washington Post reports, the announcement of the initiative came in Roberts' 2017 State of the Judiciary Report. He wrote: "The judiciary will begin 2018 by undertaking a careful evaluation of whether its standards of conduct and its procedures for investigating and correcting inappropriate behavior are adequate to ensure an exemplary workplace for every judge and every court employee." He especially noted the significance of taking a stand against sexual harassment in the workplace.
James Duff, director of the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, was directed by Roberts to direct a working group charged with examining the issues within the judicial branch. Nearly 700 former and current court employees showed their support by requesting action, suggesting that these issues should be highlighted in his annual judiciary report.
The initiative will examine if changes would need to be made to the code of conduct, guidance given to employees such as law clerks, educational programs and investigative processes for sexual misconduct cases. But this change is welcome to the judicial system, in ensuring that it upholds safety for the most vulnerable employees.
The need for institutional protection and support for sexual misconduct cases is only increasing as sexual harassment becomes a more publicly addressed issue. The change to the judiciary laws that will ensure that could have a ripple effect to other institutions, paving the way for a new outlook on how to handle sexual misconduct issues as they arise, as well as ultimately preventing them.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).