STATEMENT: Expanding Lower Federal Court Judgeships Is Key to Advancing Access to Justice, CAP’s Maggie Jo Buchanan Says

Washington, D.C. — Today, the House Judiciary Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the need to create new federal judgeships on the lower courts. In response, Maggie Jo Buchanan, director of Legal Progress at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:

Expanding the number of federal judges on the lower courts is essential to advancing access to justice. Adding more judges would not only help address unmanageable workloads and burdens on judges, it would provide an opportunity to correct the dramatic lack of representation that currently exists on the bench. Only about a third of active federal appellate and district judges are women, while just 10 percent of judges are women of color.

The bench is also dominated by judges who spent their careers in lucrative private practice or as prosecutors. That means federal courts lack the perspective and expertise of lawyers who have dedicated their careers to public defense, legal aid, and civil rights. Americans deserve a judiciary that reflects the diversity of our country, made up of judges who also have a wide variety of legal expertise and understanding of the needs of everyday people. This expansion of our lower courts is long overdue.

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