Judicial Diversity

Diversity is an essential component of a fair and impartial judiciary. Diversity encompasses both demographic characteristics –– including gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic background, and physical ability –– and professional background. Bringing diverse experiences and perspectives to bear allows judges to make better informed decisions and increases public confidence in their rulings. Despite these important benefits, neither state nor federal courts reflect the diversity of the communities they serve or the legal profession. Below are selected resources from the Brennan Center, other organizations, scholars, and the government that describe the current composition of our courts, identify best practices for promoting diversity, and shed light on the current obstacles to achieving a diverse bench.

September 12, 2017

 


Judicial Diversity Data

Data on the current composition of the judiciary is crucial to understanding the scope of the problem, proposing effective solutions, and evaluating the success of reform measures. While the Federal Judicial Center maintains a database of gender, race, and ethnicity information for the federal courts, states do not systematically collect or release this data for state courts. Below are links to data on diversity on the federal courts, as well as the limited publicly available resources for diversity data from state courts and a report recommending ways to increase the availability of such data.

 


Promoting Judicial Diversity

Diversity on courts reaps important benefits. By focusing on these benefits, the values diversity furthers, and the concrete steps necessary to strengthen our systems of selection and build pathways for future candidates, we can promote diversity on both our state and federal courts. The following works by both academics and advocates highlight the benefits of diversity and the steps jurisdictions can take to prioritize it.

 


Diversity and Judicial Selection

Judicial selection systems vary widely in the state and federal courts, so it is important to understand how different structures may impact the composition of the judiciary. Shedding light on how judicial selection functions in practice helps illuminate the obstacles to increasing judicial diversity and identify policy solutions.