California Asks Judges: Gay or Straight?
In order to make sure gays and lesbians are adequately represented on the judicial bench, the state of California is requiring all judges and justices to reveal their sexual orientation. The announcement was made in an internal memo sent to all California judges and justices.
"[The Administrative Office of the Courts] is contacting all judges and justices to gather data on race/ethnicity, gender identification, and sexual orientation," reads an email sent by Romunda Price of the Administrative Office of the Courts. A copy of Price's memo was obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
"Providing complete and accurate aggregate demographic data is crucial to garnering continuing legislative support for securing critically needed judgeships," Price writes.
The process of self-revealing one's sexual orientation is an element of a now yearly process. "To ensure that the AOC reports accurate data and to avoid the need to ask all judges to provide this information on an annual basis, the questionnaire asks that names be provided. The AOC, however, will release only aggregate statistical information, by jurisdiction, as required by the Government Code and will not identify any specific justice or judge."
Philip R. Carrizosa of the executive office of communications at the Judicial Council of California, the Administrative Office of the Courts, confirmed the authenticity of Price's email regarding gender identification and sexual orientation to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
"Yes, the e-mail is authentic and accurate," Carrizosa confirmed in an email. "The original bill, which simply provided for 50 new judgeships, was amended in the Assembly in August 2006, to address concerns that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was not appointing enough women and minorities to the bench. In 2011, Senator Ellen Corbett expanded the reporting requirement to include gender identification and sexual orientation."
California state senator Corbett, the Democratic majority leader from the San Francisco suburb San Leandro, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Price's email also reveals that the Administration Office of the Courts (AOC) is asking for this personal information because of the new law. "For the past five years, the AOC has been required to collect and release aggregate demographic data relative to the ethnicity, race, and gender of justices and judges, by specific jurisdiction, on or before March 1 of each year. This requirement is associated with efforts to obtain new judgeships."
But as a result of Corbett's 2011 California bill, the office has "expanded the collection and release of aggregate demographic data to include gender identification and sexual orientation." Therefore, Price explains, judges and justices must reveal their "sexual orientation," in addition "to their race/ethnicity [and] gender identification." Price parenthetically adds, "The AOC has gender data for all judges and justices."
The AOC asked all recipients of the email to "please complete an online questionnaire by Friday, February 17, 2012." Price made herself available if justices or judges preferred to provide the required information over the phone.