Friday, September 2, 2011
State Senate Approves Judicial Data Collection Bill
SB 182 Would Require Reports on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The state Senate yesterday approved legislation that will add gender identity and sexual orientation to the categories of data to be collected from judges and judicial applicants for statistical purposes, legislative sources said.
Senators voted 22-15 to concur in Assembly amendments to SB 182, by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro. A breakdown by party was not immediately available, but the bill previously passed the Senate on a party-line vote of 23-14.
The bill next goes to the governor.
Current law provides for the collection of data concerning a judge or judicial applicant’s race, gender, and ethnicity. Submission of the data is voluntary, and the identity of each respondent is required to be kept confidential, the data being reported only an aggregated statistical basis.
The governor is required to report on the data for three groups of applicants—those whose names have not been sent to the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, those whose names have been sent to the commission, and those who have been appointed.
In addition, the Administrative Office of the Courts is required to collect and release data regarding the race, ethnicity and gender of California judges.
Corbett’s proposal to expand the categories for which data must be provided was supported by Equality California, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, the California Judges Association, California Police Chiefs’ Association, California National Organization for Women, California Employment Lawyers Association, California Women Lawyers, City of Los Angeles, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Sacramento Lawyers for the Equality of Gays and Lesbians, and State Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, according to an analysis prepared by the Senate Rules Committee.
Just as the current law was passed to address “a lack of diversity on the courts with regard to gender and ethnicity,” Corbett told the committee, “the collection of this self-reported information will help identify diversity of sexual orientation or gender identity and gender expression, or lack thereof.”
Lambda Legal said “[t]he inclusion of these questions is particularly timely as more and more ‘out’ LGBT judges are filling seats on both state and federal benches.”
The only reported opposition to the bill came from the Capitol Resource Institute, a conservative group, which argued “the government has no business collecting data pertaining to a person’s attraction to the same sex” and that “a judicial appointment is a serious matter and should therefore not be used as a means to fill a quota.”
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company