Washington, DC – U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) recently joined U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to introduce the S. 2550, the Civic Duty Act, a one sentence, bipartisan bill to repeal a little-noticed exemption tucked into a 1991 appropriations bill which means that, under current law, members of Congress are permitted to serve on juries, but are given an option to be excused that their constituents do not have.
“Each day, people are called on to put their busy lives on hold to perform their civic duty and serve on a jury. The law should ask no less of their representatives in Congress,” said Flake. “I’m pleased to join Sen. McCaskill to introduce legislation to eliminate this arcane exemption.”
“Missourians’ time isn’t any less valuable than their elected leaders,” said McCaskill, a former courtroom prosecutor. “Serving jury duty is a fundamental part of being an American citizen—and yet federal lawmakers are exempted from this responsibility. This bill would change that and ensure all of my colleagues in Congress are fulfilling this basic civic duty.”
Both Senators responded to summons for jury duty during their time and office and shared their experiences via Twitter:
The provision tucked into the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for fiscal year 1991 reads as follows:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State or local law, no elected official of the legislative branch of the United State Government shall be required to serve on a grand or petit jury, convened by any Federal, State or local court, whether such service is requested by judicial summons or by some other means of compulsion.”
McCaskill and Flake’s bill would remove that exemption.