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An Entire Circuit's Appellate Judges Are Recused from a Judiciary Harassment Case. What Happens Now?

The entire Fourth Circuit is recused from 21-1346, Roe v. U.S., and has been since April 8.

According to clerk Pat Connor’s letter to counsel from that day:

“Please be advised that the judges of the court have recused themselves from consideration of this appeal, and the appeal will be assigned to judges designated in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §§ 291(a), 292(d), and 294(d).”

Those sections of federal law require the Chief Justice of the United States to reassign the case to another set of judges — from another circuit or from a district in a different circuit, with these judges having either active or senior status.

As of today, the case has not been reassigned, and the clerk continues to sign orders “For the Court–By Direction.” Hopefully, we’ll know more soon.

As readers of this site will recall, the litigation is about whether a former judiciary employee, Roe, can sue for harassment and other discrimination under the Fifth Amendment.

Roe says she experienced severe harassment in her job as an assistant federal defender, and when she tried to use the judiciary’s (antiquated and inadequate) internal reporting and counseling systems, she was constantly stonewalled.

Roe named the Fourth Circuit and its judicial council in her suit, hence the blanket recusal.

The case is being closely watched by the judiciary, whose reply brief in it is due next Wednesday (Oct. 20), members of Congress (read their amicus brief here and their anti-harassment-in-the-judiciary legislation here) and members of the public.

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