Utah: House bill to ban consideration of diversity in judicial nominating process killed after Senate tries to put “background and experience” in

A bill designed to ban considerations of diversity in Utah’s judiciary when vacancies occurred has been killed in a Senate committee.

HB 93 would have removed the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice’s power to set evaluation criteria. At one time that list of criteria included diversity on the bench, but was removed after criticism by legislators. Instead, HB 93 as approved by the House would have specifically provided the list of criteria to be used, and diversity was specifically excluded. The lead proponent of the bill called the use of diversity criteria “discrimination.

The bill then went to the Senate where an amendment was added in the Senate Judiciary Committee to put some diversity consideration back into the process.

For diversity on the bench, when deciding among applicants whose qualifications appear in all other respects to be equal, it is relevant to consider the background and experience of the applicants in relation to the current composition of the bench for which the appointment is being made.

The diversity language was approved 4-0 with 3 members absent, however the overall bill with Senate amendment was then rejected 2-3 with 2 members absent.