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Jeannie Suk Gersen

  • 4th Circuit Revives Ex-Public Defender’s Sex Harassment Lawsuit Against Judiciary Officials

    April 29, 2022

    An appeals court is giving a former federal public defender another chance to take her sexual harassment claims to court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Tuesday revived a portion of Caryn Strickland’s lawsuit against the judiciary. Certain claims can move forward against several officials, including Roslynn Mauskopf, the chair of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and Roger Gregory, the Fourth Circuit’s chief judge. ... Strickland’s attorney, Harvard professor Jeannie Suk Gersen, called the decision a win for her client and others who may bring sex discrimination lawsuits against the courts. “Today’s decision is a major victory. In a unanimous decision, the court held that Strickland’s constitutional claims for equal protection and due process violations can proceed, and made clear that the federal judiciary as an employer is not immune from suits for sex discrimination,” Gersen said in a statement.

  • Federal court officials can be sued for alleged failure to protect public defender from sex bias, 4th Circuit rules

    April 28, 2022

    A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a former assistant federal public defender in North Carolina can sue court officials for constitutional violations stemming from an alleged faulty investigation of sexual harassment. ... Strickland was represented by Jeannie Suk Gersen, a professor at Harvard Law School, who called the decision “a major victory” in a statement published by Law.com and other publications. The unanimous decision “made clear that the federal judiciary as an employer is not immune from suits for sex discrimination,” Gersen said.

  • Court revives sexual harassment lawsuit targeting federal judiciary

    April 28, 2022

    A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a former public defender’s lawsuit challenging the federal judiciary’s handling of her sexual harassment and discrimination claims about a supervisor’s unwelcome attention at work. ... Strickland’s lawyer, Jeannie Suk Gersen, a Harvard Law School professor, characterized Tuesday’s decision as a landmark ruling because it makes “crystal clear” that the federal judiciary, as an employer, “can be held accountable based on its constitutional obligations” by judiciary employees who experience discrimination.

  • 4th Circ. Revives Sexual Harassment Suit Against Judiciary

    April 28, 2022

    A designated Fourth Circuit panel on Tuesday reinstated some claims in a sexual harassment suit brought by a former North Carolina assistant federal public defender accusing federal judiciary officials of mishandling her complaints, but declined to rule that internal procedures designed to redress workplace misconduct claims are unconstitutional. The three-judge panel said former assistant federal public defender Caryn Devins Strickland can proceed with certain allegations that the Judicial Conference, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the Fourth Circuit and its leaders violated her constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. A district judge dismissed the entire case in December 2020. ... Harvard Law School professor Jeannie Suk Gersen, who is representing Strickland, said the panel's decision "made clear that the federal judiciary as an employer is not immune from suits for sex discrimination."

  • U.S. judiciary can be sued over sex harassment complaint’s handling -court

    April 27, 2022

    A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that a former federal public defender in North Carolina could sue the judiciary for violating her constitutional rights by being deliberately indifferent to her complaints of sexual harassment. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals partly reversed a judge's dismissal of a 2020 lawsuit by Caryn Strickland, who alleged she was sexually harassed by a superior and stonewalled in her efforts to have the judiciary address her complaint. ... "Today’s decision is a major victory," Jeannie Suk Gersen, a professor at Harvard Law School who represents Strickland.

  • If Roe v. Wade Is Overturned, What’s Next?

    April 18, 2022

    An essay by Jeannie Suk Gersen: In 2003, when the Supreme Court held, in Lawrence v. Texas, that criminalizing gay sex was unconstitutional, it insisted that the decision had nothing to do with marriage equality. In a scathing dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “Do not believe it.” Then, in 2013, when the Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, emphasizing the tradition of letting the states define marriage, Scalia issued another warning, saying that “no one should be fooled” into thinking that the Court would leave states free to exclude gay couples from that definition. He was finally proved right two years later, when the reasoning on dignity and equality developed in those earlier rulings led to the Court’s holding that the Constitution requires all states to recognize same-sex marriage.

  • Investigating January 6th

    April 4, 2022

    With a judge declaring that Donald Trump “more likely than not” committed a felony in his attempt to overturn the Presidential election, the congressional committee investigating January 6th is racing to finish its work before the looming midterm elections. Amy Davidson Sorkin and the legal scholar Jeannie Suk Gersen talk with David Remnick about the law and the politics of holding Trump accountable. Ben McGrath explores the troubled but remarkable life of Dick Conant, the subject of his new book, “Riverman: An American Odyssey.” And the music writer Sheldon Pearce shares three artists who didn’t get their due in the Grammy nominations.

  • 4th Circuit replaces federal public defender amid sexual bias lawsuit

    March 30, 2022

    A retired Marine brigadier general will replace the top federal public defender for the Western District of North Carolina after the prior office holder became a defendant in a closely watched sexual discrimination lawsuit against the judiciary. ... Jeannie Suk Gersen, a professor at Harvard Law School who represents Strickland, did not respond to a request for comment.

  • Ex-Defender In Judiciary Harassment Case Unmasks Herself

    March 23, 2022

    The formerly anonymous attorney suing the leaders of the federal judiciary over their alleged mishandling of her complaints of on-the-job sexual harassment has officially revealed her identity. Former assistant federal public defender Caryn Devins Strickland acknowledged in a court filing Monday that she is the plaintiff known as Jane Roe in the much-watched lawsuit against the Judicial Conference, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the Fourth Circuit and others. The Fourth Circuit issued an order amending the case's caption to replace "Jane Roe" with Strickland's name Tuesday. ... Strickland is represented by Jeannie Suk Gersen and Cooper Strickland.

  • Judiciary Builds on #MeToo Response with New Recommendations (1)

    March 22, 2022

    Monetary remedies for judiciary workers in misconduct disputes and an anonymous nationwide survey for employees are among recommendations in a new report by a working group on judiciary misconduct. Sent to employees internally on Wednesday, the report includes nine new proposed steps that seek to build on changes the judiciary adopted following its own reckoning with the #MeToo movement. ... The report comes ahead of ahead of a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Thursday about the flaws in the current reporting system in the judiciary and need for statutory change. Caryn Devins Strickland, a former federal defender who brought sex discrimination claims against the federal courts and officials in a suit currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, is among the scheduled witnesses, her lawyer Jeannie Suk Gersen confirmed. Strickland had been referred to in court documents only as Jane Roe but shed her pseudonym in a Wednesday court document ahead of the hearing.

  • ‘Jane Roe,’ the Attorney Suing Over the Judiciary’s Harassment Policies, to Speak to Congress

    March 22, 2022

    An attorney suing the federal judiciary over its protocols for handling harassment complaints will speak at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing about flaws in the judicial branch’s workplace protection policies. Caryn Devins Strickland, a former North Carolina public defender, filed a notice of intent on Wednesday to withdraw the “Jane Roe” pseudonym from her complaint, which alleges that the judiciary’s protocols for handling workplace misconduct are unconstitutional and failed to protect her from harassment by a supervisor at the Federal Defender Office for the Western District of North Carolina. Strickland is now seeking to revive the lawsuit after a district judge dismissed it last year. Strickland is among several people who will appear before the House members Thursday, according to her attorney, Jeannie Suk Gersen, and an advisory from the committee.

  • Congress to hear from woman suing over judiciary’s harassment policies

    March 18, 2022

    A former public defender, who has been pursuing a high-profile legal challenge to the federal judiciary's process for handling sexual harassment complaints under a pseudonym, is stepping forward to inform Congress about the judiciary's "unfair and biased" procedures. Caryn Devins Strickland, a former federal public defender in North Carolina, said she decided to shed the pseudonym in order to testify publicly before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee examining sexual harassment in the judiciary. ... The case is Roe v. United States, 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-1346. For Roe: Jeannie Suk Gersen of Harvard Law School and Cooper Strickland

  • Panel Says Judiciary Went ‘Off The Rails’ In Harassment Case

    March 3, 2022

    Two of the three out-of-circuit judges assigned by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts to hear an ex-North Carolina assistant federal public defender's Fourth Circuit appeal in her sexual harassment suit suggested Wednesday that the federal judiciary did not seem to have followed its procedures to redress workplace misconduct claims when the public defender aired her allegations. ... Harvard Law School professor Jeannie Suk Gersen, who is representing Roe, rejected what she called false claims by the government that her client failed to file a formal internal complaint with the judiciary. "They were the ones who allegedly forced her to resign and withdraw the claim," Gersen said.

  • The Politics of the Supreme Court Shortlist

    February 18, 2022

    An article by Jeannie Suk Gersen: In September, 2020, when the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opened up a seat on the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump said that he expected to name a nominee soon, and specified, “It will be a woman—a very talented, very brilliant woman.” A number of female jurists were discussed as top contenders, and he chose Amy Coney Barrett as the nominee. Neither Democrats nor Republicans objected to the stated intention to nominate a woman. Indeed, many would have taken issue with the idea of Ginsburg being replaced by a man—which would have decreased the number of women on the Court from three to two.

  • Citing Conflict of Interest, Ex-Defender Asks Panel to Recuse Itself or Vacate Order in Her Harassment Case

    February 9, 2022

    A former federal public defender is asking an appellate panel to either vacate a lower court’s ruling against her, or disqualify itself from deciding her sexual harassment claims against the judiciary, citing a conflict of interest stemming from the selection of judges. ... Roe’s attorneys, Jeannie Suk Gersen and Cooper Strickland, said records and information the government released related to the assignment process show the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and Judicial Conference participated in selecting judges to hear the lawsuit, even though they’re named defendants. Roe’s lawyers are urging the panel to either vacate U.S. District Judge William Young’s dismissal of the lawsuit, or reassign the case to a new panel that would vacate the lower court’s order.

  • Judiciary Misconduct Spotlighted in Fourth Circuit Sex Bias Case

    February 7, 2022

    A U.S. appeals court will consider reviving a former federal judiciary employee’s sex discrimination claims in a case that could lower the bar for workers to win misconduct lawsuits against the nation’s judicial branch. ... Justice Department spokeswoman Danielle Blevins declined to comment. Roe’s attorney, Harvard Law School professor Jeannie Suk Gersen, didn’t reply to a request for comment.

  • The Case Against the Oath Keepers

    January 25, 2022

    An article by Jeannie Suk Gersen: On January 6, 2021, in the minutes before the storming of the Capitol, I was sending a welcome message to my new class of criminal-law students while keeping an eye on Congress’s certification of the Presidential election. During the next few hours, a violent mob invaded the building, overwhelmed law enforcement, and drove lawmakers to halt the certification process and hide or evacuate. At the end of that semester, I included a new question on the final exam for my criminal-law students, one about the previously little-known crime of “seditious conspiracy,” which includes conspiring “by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.”

  • Podcast: Jeannie Suk Gersen on the Importance of Due Process

    December 13, 2021

    Jeannie Suk Gersen is the John H. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a contributing writer at The New Yorker. She writes widely about the law and its impact on society. In this week’s conversation, Jeannie Suk Gersen and Yascha Mounk discuss the value of robust debate in law school classrooms, the perils of eroding due process in the name of progress, and the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

  • History’s harsh judgment

    December 10, 2021

    During a recent Supreme Court hearing, Justice Brett Kavanaugh advanced this case for reversing precedent and canceling a woman’s right to make critical health decisions for herself: “The Constitution is neither pro-life nor pro-choice on the question of abortion but leaves the issue for the people of the states or perhaps Congress to resolve in the democratic process.” On the surface, that sounds fair. In a democracy, let “the people” decide what the law should be. But Kavanaugh’s argument is deeply disingenuous, and he profoundly misreads the nature of America’s political tradition. In our system, when a right is deemed fundamental, it cannot be abrogated by a popular vote. The founders created a network of checks and balances — especially the federal courts — to protect the rights of individuals, even when they are unpopular. As Harvard law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen wrote in The New Yorker: “The point of a fundamental constitutional right is that it shouldn’t be at the people’s mercy, particularly when the composition of the Court itself has been shifted through political means for this purpose.”

  • A Tragic Conflict of Competing Goods

    December 10, 2021

    Abortion has been discussed intensely this past week due to oral arguments in a Supreme Court case that could significantly alter the constitutional right to the procedure in the United States. At issue is a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, contra current precedent. If upheld, the law will likely inspire new abortion restrictions in many red states. We begin with the law’s sponsor, Becky Currie, a Mississippi state legislator and registered nurse. “I pray my bill will save millions of babies,” she wrote in Newsweek, where she explained that she’s helped to deliver many, including a 14-week-old born too early to survive. ... The Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen framed the law differently. In her telling, it is not an attempt to restore a right to life; it is an attempt to abrogate a constitutional right to privacy and bodily autonomy. “The conservative Justices seemed eager to ‘return’ the question of abortion to the people,” she wrote after listening to oral arguments in the case. “But the point of a fundamental constitutional right is that it shouldn’t be at the people’s mercy, particularly when the composition of the Court itself has been shifted through political means for this purpose.” What’s more, she argued that the Supreme Court would undermine its own authority by overturning a long-standing precedent in response to a state law that ran afoul of it. As she put the argument: “The spectacle of states brazenly flying in the face of the Court’s constitutional precedents, shortly followed by the Court’s discarding those precedents to make illegal actions legal after all, would effectively communicate that the Supreme Court is not, in fact, supreme.”

  • The Mississippi Abortion Case and the Fragile Legitimacy of the Supreme Court

    December 6, 2021

    An article by Jeannie Suk Gersen: The legal landscape of the past weeks and months has prompted questions of which people and entities are legitimate interpreters and enforcers of the law and what happens when you take the law into your own hands. Mississippi and other states took the recent changes in personnel on the Supreme Court as an invitation to defy the Court’s constitutional rulings on abortion, and those states now seem likely to prevail. During oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, last Wednesday, the three liberal Justices often seemed to be delivering dirges, as though they had accepted a loss and were speaking for posterity. Mississippi’s ban on abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy, which boldly flouts the Court’s precedents setting the line at around twenty-four weeks, is likely to be upheld by the conservative Justices. The arguments offered scant reason for hope that Roe v. Wade will be reaffirmed; the newest conservative Justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, signalled no qualms about overruling Roe as wrongly decided, which would make a majority of at least five. At a time when the Court’s legitimacy appears extremely fragile, it is telling that the majority’s response to having the supremacy of the Court’s decisions defied seems to be acquiescence and approval.