The Brennan Center for Justice has just released “Improving Judicial Diversity,” a report that closely inspects the judicial appointive systems of 10 states. The study reveals a disturbing lack of diversity on state benches, both in judicial selection and election systems, and offers ways to improve judicial nominating commissions to properly reflect our nation’s diverse citizenry.
The report notes:
The United States is more diverse than ever, but its state judges are not. While we recognize that citizens are entitled to a jury of their peers who will be drawn from a pool that reflects the surrounding community, Americans who enter the courtroom often face a predictable presence on the bench: a white male…
Unfortunately, studies show that both merit selection systems and judicial elections are equally challenged when it comes to creating diversity…
The problem is clear: 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.
But it is a situation we can fix.
Michael Waldman, Executive Director for the Brennan Center, expresses this same sense of hope in the report’s foreword: “Whether judges are appointed or elected, we have far to go… [But we] have a rare opportunity at this moment to make the administration of justice more inclusive, more effective, and more just.”
To see the full “Improving Judicial Diversity” report, click here.