Chief Justice John Roberts released his annual report on the federal judiciary today, focusing on the judiciary’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Roberts had discussed this issue in his 2017 report, after several female law clerks accused Judge Alex Kozinski – then a prominent judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit – of inappropriate sexual conduct.
A working group created to review the safeguards in place to protect law clerks and other employees concluded, Roberts reported, that “inappropriate workplace conduct is not pervasive within the Judiciary, but it is also not limited to a few isolated instances involving law clerks” and “frequently goes unreported.” Roberts endorsed the recommendations made by the group, which included making changes to the codes of conduct for both judges and employees to make clear that both harassment and retaliation against employees who report misconduct are prohibited.
Roberts observed that he was “pleased” that the judiciary has “mobilized to ensure that” it is “the exemplary workplace that we all want,” but he added that “the job is not finished until we have done all that we can to ensure that all of our employees are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.”
As he had last year, Roberts recognized the efforts of judiciary employees responding to natural disasters, including this year’s “floods in Florida and North Carolina, Super Typhoon Yutu in the Northern Mariana Islands, the Alaska earthquake that damaged the Anchorage courthouse, and the new wildfires in Northern California.” But after his comments in November rebuking President Donald Trump for describing a federal judge who ruled against the Trump administration’s new asylum policy as an “Obama judge,” Roberts remained silent on judicial independence.
Amy Howe, The chief justice’s 2018 year-end report: The federal judiciary and #MeToo, SCOTUSblog (Dec. 31, 2018, 6:00 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2018/12/the-chief-justices-2018-year-end-report-the-federal-judiciary-and-metoo