The Judiciary: By The Numbers

Against All Odds...

 

Despite opinions like the one above, women lawyers have worked to open the law profession in the United States for centuries. The earliest American female lawyers drew upon the sentiments expressed in the Seneca falls declaration, chastising men for monopolizing “nearly all the profitable employments.”

The push to accept women in the legal field was essentially one of individual effort and perseverance. Today, it is not so different.

Women are vastly underrepresented in judicial appointments, despite making up a large swath of high-power lawyers in our country. This is due to various systemic roadblocks, ranging from inadequate recruitment into the legal profession for young women, to the pervasive gender bias held by many in the court’s practice when appointing or electing a woman judge.

 


The Judiciary: By the Numbers

 

 

 

Out of the 115  justices that have served on the  Supreme Court, there have only been five women

- three of whom are currently on the bench.

Just sixty-five of the 175 active judges currently sitting on the federal circuit courts are female.

Women hold 37 percent of state supreme court seats. 


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Court Diversity

Women of color are less represented than any other demographic group.    

In 22 states, no justices publicly identify as a person of color, includ­ing in 11 states where people of color make up at least 20 percent of the popu­la­tion.    

Across all state high courts, just 17 percent of justices are Black, Latino, Asian Amer­ican, or Native Amer­ican.

By contrast, people of color make up almost 40 percent of the U.S. popu­la­tion.    

 

 


 

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Is Representation Improving?

As of January 2022, President Biden has 42 confirmed federal judges with 78.6% of them being women. His predecessors confirmed women 42% (Obama) and 24% (Trump) of the time. 

In April 2022, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was the first African-American woman confirmed to the Federal Supreme Court. Previously, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the first and only woman of color to sit on the Supreme Court of the US.


Sources:  Center for American ProgressAmerican Constitution Society, National Association of Women Judges, The Gavel GapEnjurisU.S. Supreme CourtCenter for American Progress