Quebec’s Judicial Council will proceed with an investigation of Judge Eliana Marengo, who is charged with refusing to hear a case after a litigant in her courtroom refused to remove her hijab. According to news reports:
In 2015, Marengo refused to hear a case involving Rania El-Alloul because the latter refused to remove her Islamic head scarf while in the courtroom.
El-Alloul was violating a Quebec law stipulating people must be “suitably dressed” in the courtroom, Marengo said at the time.
“In my opinion, you are not suitably dressed,” Marengo told El-Alloul, according to court documents. “Decorum is important. Hats and sunglasses, for example, are not allowed. And I don’t see why scarves on the head would be either.
“I will therefore not hear you if you are wearing a scarf on your head, just as I would not allow a person to appear before me wearing a hat or sunglasses on his or her head, or any other garment not suitable for a court proceeding.”
Incredibly, Judge Marengo’s defense for this behavior is judicial independence.
Dear Judge Marengo: Judicial independence is essential to assure that judges follow the law and provide an impartial forum for the resolution of disputes. It is not designed to justify or protect boorish behavior from the bench. To tie judicial independence to the mistreatment of litigants in your courtroom is to tarnish everything that concept stands for.