Federal law clerks demand changes to judiciary's sexual misconduct policies

Hundreds of current and former federal judicial clerks signed off on a letter sent Wednesday calling for changes to the federal judiciary system in order to better address possible sexual misconduct moving forward.

“We believe that significant changes are necessary to address the potential for harassment of employees who work in the federal court system, the confidentiality principles that apply to work in chambers, and the risk that these confidentiality provisions can be used to shield, if not enable, harassment,” the clerks wrote in the letter, obtained by HuffPost.

The letter was sent to Chief Justice John Roberts and other top judiciary officials. 

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The letter comes days after Alex Kozinski, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, resigned following sexual misconduct allegations from several women. Federal judges typically hold lifetime appointments. 

In the legislative branch, multiple lawmakers have resigned or announced their retirement after sexual misconduct allegations were made against them, including Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenPawlenty opts out of Senate run in Minnesota EMILY’s List president: Franken did 'right thing for Minnesota' Dem pledges to ask all court nominees about sexual harassment history under oath MORE (D-Minn.), Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersWoman accuses New York state senator of sexual misconduct Dissatisfaction with position of women in US hits new high Republicans on the run: Retirements could be trouble for Trump and party MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) and Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdThis week: Time running out for Congress to avoid shutdown Woman accuses New York state senator of sexual misconduct Republicans on the run: Retirements could be trouble for Trump and party MORE (R-Texas).

The clerks on Wednesday asked the judges to revise the Law Clerk Handbook to provide guidance on handling sexual harassment. Currently, the handbook does not specify what constitutes misconduct or how to report it, they wrote.

They also asked for sexual harassment issues and confidentiality guidelines to be discussed during law clerk training, and for the judiciary to develop a confidential reporting system. 

“Many of us did not experience harassment during our time with the judiciary, but we all want to ensure that the appropriate procedures and policies are in place to address harassment within the federal judiciary system going forward,” the clerks wrote.