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Improving Judicial Diversity

Published: March 3, 2010

White males are overrep­res­en­ted on state appel­late benches by a margin of nearly two-to-one. Almost every other demo­graphic group is under­rep­res­en­ted when compared to their share of the nation’s popu­la­tion. Even after years of women and minor­it­ies making strides in the legal profes­sion, white men continue to hold a dispro­por­tion­ate share of judi­cial seats compared with their share of the general popu­la­tion. The ques­tion of why this pattern persists does not have an easy answer; the dynamic is created by the inter­sec­tion of a number of complex factors. This study exam­ines how success­ful states with appoin­ted judi­ciar­ies are at recruit­ing and appoint­ing women and racial minor­it­ies to sit on the bench. Our goal is to provide an accur­ate picture of the diversity in state courts and a roadmap of how to improve diversity on the state bench.