Diversity Increasing in Federal Judiciary

There was a time not long ago when the word “judge” conjured up an image of a gray-haired white male, as the vast majority of courtroom judges (and in movies, for that matter) fit that description.

Times have changed, and rather dramatically. Recently-reported statistics on the makeup of the federal judiciary show that more than 70 percent of confirmed nominees have been either women or minorities during the past three years. This accelerates a trend that began during the terms of the past several presidents, who all made concerted efforts to diversify the federal bench. Considering that it took our country more than 140 years before it had any female or minority judges, this can only be viewed as good news.

The breakdown of recently-confirmed federal judges is 21 percent African-American, 11 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Asian-American and 47 percent women. This is remarkably close to the general population, based on 2010 census information showing that the U.S. population is roughly 13 percent African-American, 16 percent Hispanic, 5 percent Asian-American and 51 percent female.

Lots of people complain about the judicial system and its limitations, but far fewer offer any constructive suggestions as to how it should be improved. Nonetheless, the vision of a federal judiciary that resembles the people it serves is quietly becoming a reality.

Posted: 9/30/2011 2:10:47 PM by On the Merits Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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