The Maryland Judiciary established a grant program in January to provide courts in the state with funds to establish Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator (DEI) positions, according to the funding opportunity.

Among other responsibilities, DEI coordinators will “offer advice and guidance on DEI best practices and trends to Circuit Court administrators” and “plan, develop, and market diversity and inclusion-focused programs, and events for court staff and the community,” according to the funding opportunity. The grants, which are provided through the Maryland Judiciary’s Administrative Office of the Courts, will offer three selected circuit courts “full funding” for a DEI coordinator position.

Cornell Law School professor and Equal Protection Project founder William A. Jacobson told the Daily Caller News Foundation that courts should “keep DEI in the political sphere, not in the courthouse.”

“DEI is a group identity ideological approach, which is the exact opposite of our constitutional structure of focusing on the rights and obligations of individuals,” Jacobson said. “There is no good reason for a court, of all places, to abdicate the focus on the individual and to focus on groups. DEI cannot, because of its group identity focus, advance the cause that every individual is entitled to equal protection of the laws and to be treated with respect without regard to race, ethnicity, or other protected status.”

Applications for the grant program are due in March 2024, and selected applicants will receive notice in June 2025, per the funding opportunity document. Proposals must be accompanied by a “letter of support from the administrative judge of the court,” according to the application.

The Maryland Judiciary also recently listed a job opening for a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Coordinator, according to a LinkedIn listing. The salary for the position is set at $89,964.

“The DEIB Coordinator will build sustainable approaches to strengthen diversity in AOC workplaces and programs, while ensuring inclusive and equitable AOC operations,” the job description states. “The DEIB Coordinator will use objective assessments, evidence-based approaches, and expert judgment to develop and coordinate changes to policies and procedures, education, and personnel management leveraging diversity and ensuring equity, inclusion, and belonging in AOC operations.”

“Work may involve data analysis, written assessments, reports, trainings, or oral presentations to various groups, including leadership, judges, clerks, managers/supervisors, and support personnel,” it continues.

The federal Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) has similarly launched diversity initiatives in recent years. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hired its own DEI officer in November 2020, according to LinkedIn.

The Maryland Judiciary referred the DCNF to its website in response to a request for comment.

Katelynn Richardson on February 11, 2024

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