March 9, 2020
American Constitution Society Unveils New Tool To Track Race, Ethnicity and Gender of Federal Judges
ACS President Russ Feingold says much work is needed to make courts stronger through diversity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nancy Rodriguez, email@example.com
Washington, DC — The American Constitution Society (ACS) announced today the addition of a new feature on its website that will allow the public to get a true picture of the racial, ethnic and gender makeup of active, lifetime judges.
The launch of the new “Diversity of the Federal Bench” webpage comes at a time when ACS and other judicial advocacy groups are raising the alarm about the growing lack of judicial diversity on the federal circuit courts of appeal and district courts, where the vast majority of all federal cases are decided.
ACS’s data show that people of color make up just 27 percent of all active judges on what are known as Article III courts, which includes the Supreme Court, circuit and district courts and the Court of International Trade. Fifteen states have district courts that do not have a single judge who is a person of color. Overall, 73 percent of all Article III judges are white and 66 percent are male.
“Our courts should reflect our nation’s diversity and these numbers show we still have a lot of work to do,” said ACS President Russell Feingold. “Integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament are important considerations when selecting federal judges, but so, too, should be representation. Diverse judges bring a broad range of experience, background, and perspective to cases. Courts that reflect the communities they serve increase the public’s confidence in the courts and the overall justice system.”
ACS has historically monitored judicial nominations and confirmations on its website. The new feature will enhance this existing resource by tracking and graphically representing the racial, ethnic and gender breakdown of confirmed federal judges in all Article III courts.
ACS’s tracking is based on data collected from judges by the Federal Judicial Center, the research and education agency of the judicial branch of the U.S. government. ACS will update the “Diversity of the Federal Bench” webpage regularly as new data becomes available from the center.
The latest data on the page highlights several glaring instances of disparity in the courts:
- Article III judges confirmed under President Trump have been 75 percent male and 85 percent white. Under President Obama confirmed Article III judges were 58 percent male and 64 percent white.
- There are 37 district courts nationwide where there are no judges of color.
- There are 9 district courts nationwide where there are no female judges.
- There are 7 district courts nationwide that have a bench of all white men.
- 15 states have a district courts without a single person of color on the bench. Those states include: Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin.
- The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (which handles cases for Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana) is all white.
“Diversity on the federal courts has declined in recent years, but this is not solely a partisan issue. We must all take responsibility and do better,” said Feingold. “It is important to define the scope of the diversity issues on the federal courts. ACS is proud to offer this new tracking tool to the public so that we can bring to light what is happening in our courts and find ways to ensure our courts and justice system become stronger through diversity. And of course, we have to do better going forward. This is one of many reasons ACS has its Path to the Bench program to recruit diverse candidates to serve on the courts.”
AMERICAN CONSTITUTION SOCIETY
ACS believes that the Constitution is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We interpret the Constitution based on its text and against the backdrop of history and lived experience. Through a diverse nationwide network of progressive lawyers, law students, judges, scholars, and many others, we work to uphold the Constitution in the 21st Century by ensuring that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives. For more information, visit us at www.acslaw.org or on Twitter at @acslaw.