The news of the first Black woman nominee to the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson, has brought up a host of questions, especially – what will being the first Black woman on the Supreme Court mean for the U.S. judicial system? Here we dive into what diversity and representation looks like presently in the U.S. judiciary, and about why it matters going forward.
Diversity among American lawyers and judges has historically underrepresented minorities. Diversity in the judiciary is important to accomplish the constitutional goal of ensuring justice for all, however this goal has not been largely achieved.
By the numbers:
- Today, 5.4% of lawyers in the U.S. are Black, 4.7% are Asian, 6.9% are LatinX, and 0.4% are Native American
- Of the 1,398 sitting Federal Judges, 22% identify as part of a racial minority
- Of the 115 justices who have served the Supreme Court, only 3 have been persons of color
- At all levels of the state court system, less than 20% of judges are persons of color.
Why does diversity matter in the Judiciary?
The absence of a diverse judicial system in the U.S. has and will affect public belief in the court system, case sentencing, and confidence in a fair trial.
A diverse judiciary helps create trust and legitimacy in the justice system among underrepresented groups.
Trust of the court system is particularly low among Black Americans, when Black men are nearly 6 times more likely to be incarcerated than White men.
Research has also shown that female judges are more likely to recognize problems of gender bias in the courtroom and then intervene.
Diversity in the judiciary is important to accomplish its goal of serving fair and unbiased justice to the public it serves.
The new Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, shares a birthday with the first Black female federal judge, Constance Baker Motley. Speaking about her, Jackson said –
“Today I proudly stand on Judge Motley’s shoulders … I can only hope that my life and career … will inspire future generations of Americans.”
A friendly reminder: We’ve done our research, but you should, too! Check our sources against your own, and always exercise sound judgment.
“Racial Diversity in the Judiciary” / Clay Halton / Investopedia / last updated March 11, 2022
“What Research Shows About the Importance of Supreme Court Diversity” / Alicia Bannon and Douglas Keith / Brennan Center / February 1, 2022
“Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court” / The White House / February 25, 2022
“What Ketanji Brown Jackson Could Bring to the Supreme Court” / Madeleine Carlisle / Time / February 25, 2022