Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin was recently suspended by the Board of Judicial Conduct for exchanging racist and sexist emails with other state officials, and two other justices have since been implicated in the scandal. Justice Eakin defended his actions by claiming that the emails were sent among “the boys” in the “locker room.” While Justice Eakin’s defense shows that the judge and his “boys” — his white, male friends who run Pennsylvania’s courts and prosecutors’ offices — feel comfortable exchanging messages that denigrate women, African- Americans and other groups, it also reveals the glaring lack of diversity in Pennsylvania courts.
Of 27 appellate state court judges, only one is a judge of color. Except for one two-year period, the state Supreme Court has been all-white for two decades. And in a state where people of color make up about 20 percent of the population, only 14 percent of Pennsylvania’s federal judges are people of color, including semi-retired judges. Meanwhile, only 14 of the state’s 66 federal judges and only 25 percent of state judges are women, even though women are more than half of the state’s population.
The above excerpt was originally published in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
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