The Federal Judiciary Needs More Judges From Historically Underrepresented Groups

The Contemplation of Justice statue stands in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

See also:Building a More Inclusive Federal Judiciary” by Danielle Root, Jake Faleschini, and Grace Oyenubi

In order to function properly, the federal judiciary needs the public to trust that the institution and the decisions it renders are legitimate.

Legal scholars, judicial commentators, and legal practitioners have all raised concerns about the federal judiciary’s current legitimacy crisis. Members of the public increasingly perceive federal courts as unfair, particularly to underrepresented groups. Contributing to the judiciary’s legitimacy crisis is the lack of federal judges representing people of color, women, and individuals who self-identify as LGBTQ. Today, more than 73 percent of sitting federal judges are men and 80 percent are white

The inclusion of judges from different backgrounds and walks of life leads to more thoughtful and balanced decisions, thereby bolstering the legitimacy of the courts, while—at the same time—offering a wide array of benefits to litigants and the legal profession.

This series of fact sheets examines stark representation gaps for historically underrepresented groups across the federal judiciary.

Danielle Root is the associate director of Voting Rights and Access to Justice at the Center for American Progress.