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Research Report

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.