American Constitution Society Unveils Tool to Track Diversity of the Federal Bench

March 13, 2020 by Dan McCue
E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The American Constitution Society has launched a new data tracker that will monitor the gender, racial and ethnic diversity of the nation’s federal courts.

According to the nonpartisan legal think tank, while the overwhelming number of judges who sit on the federal courts of the United States are white and male, previous administrations have placed an emphasis on increasing representation for both women and people of color.

ACS said the statistics show these efforts have stalled under the Trump administration.

As of February 2020, the active judges on the Article III courts, which consists of the U.S. Supreme Court, the circuit courts, the district courts, and the U.S. Court of International Trade, are 73% white and 66% male.

By comparison, only 36% of active judges in this group are women, 13% black, 9% Latino, and 4% Asian-American, with the remaining 1% being of mixed background.

The Society maintains that in order to truly render justice as envisioned under the U.S. Constitution, the federal courts should reflect the diversity of the country.

The tracker shows the Obama administration was far better at approaching this goal than the current administration.

During the Obama administration, there were 329 confirmed Article III judges: two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, 55 circuit court judges, 268 district court judges, and four judges to the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Of these, 191 of the new judges were men, and 138 were women. In terms of ethnicity, 210 of the Obama-era new judges were white, while 59 were black, 32 Latino, 19 Asian-American, one Native American and 19 who identified as two or more races.

So far under the Trump administration, there have been 192 confirmed Article III judges: two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, 51 circuit court judges, 137 district court judges, and two judges to the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Of these judges nominated by President Trump, most are white and male, 146 were men and 46 were women.

In addition, ethnically, 164 nominees have been white, eight black, seven Latino, and 12 Asian-American. Only one identified as being of two or more races and no Native Americans have been nominated to a court seat.The tracker can be found here.

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