USD Professor of Law Gail Heriot to Serve Second Term on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission

Professor of Law Gail Heriot

Washington (December 3, 2013) – Confirmed by the United States Senate on November 21, University of San Diego School of Law Professor Gail Heriot will serve a second six-year term on the United States Civil Rights Commission. Heriot was appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate upon the recommendation of Minority Leader McConnell.

Heriot has served on the Commission since 2005, appointed to fill out the unexpired portion of the previous member's term and then re-appointed to a full six-year term. Her second six-year term begins on December 13, 2013.

The Commission meets regularly in Washington, D.C., with occasional meeting location changes. Most of Heriot’s work is completed in San Diego, where she writes her individual "Commissioner Statements" that comprise a significant portion of official Commission reports.

Heriot was instrumental in the recently released Commission report on Sexual Assault in the Military. The report attempted to shed light on the questions such as: (1) When surveys suggest that sexual assault rates in the military are quite high, how is "sexual assault" being defined? (2) How do sexual assault rates in the military compare, for example, to rates in colleges and universities? (3) What methods are the military services employing to bring the sexual assault rates down? (4) Are there better ways to accomplish this goal?

Heriot says the Commission is currently working to issue a report on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's new policy on criminal background checks as a form of race and national origin discrimination.

“Like many issues the Commission deals with, this is a contentious one,” said Heriot. “Members of the Commission disagree on the merits of the EEOC's policy.”

Next May, the Commission will conduct a hearing on the Department of Justice and the Department of Education's enforcement policy on sexual harassment in education. Among the questions the Commission will work to answer are (1) How severe is the problem of sexual harassment in education today? (2) What is being done to reduce the problem? (3) Are there downsides to aggressive enforcement policies, such as a tendency to discourage one-on-one teacher-student interaction in the K-12 level? (4) When DOJ and DoEd advise colleges and universities to prohibit conduct that makes students uncomfortable are they creating thorny first amendment issues?

Other issues on the Commission’s agenda include the racial aspects of "Stand Your Ground" self-defense policies and "patient dumping" as a form of discrimination against the disabled.

About Gail Heriot

Gail Heriot is a professor of law at the University of San Diego School of Law, where she teaches and writes in the areas of civil rights, employment discrimination, product liability remedies, and torts.

About the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

The Civil Rights Act of 1957 created the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Since then, Congress has reauthorized or extended the legislation creating the Commission several times, most recently by the Civil Rights Commission Amendments Act of 1994.

Established as an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding federal agency, the Commission informs the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws by studying alleged deprivations of voting rights and alleged discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or in the administration of justice. The Commission plays a vital role in advancing civil rights through objective and comprehensive investigation, research, and analysis on issues of fundamental concern to the federal government and the public.

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Recognized for the excellence of its faculty, curriculum and clinical programs, the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law enrolls approximately 900 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world. The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest law, and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 81 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 23rd worldwide in all-time faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, nonprofit, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.


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