Few women on the bench

February 3, 2010
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Women just barely outnumber men in the U.S., and nearly half of law school grads and firm associates are women, yet we still make up less than a third, and sometimes, less than a tenth of the judges in state or federal courts.

The nomination of two female judges to the U.S. District’s Southern District of Indiana is definitely a step in the right direction. It will double the number of women on the federal bench here; however, that sounds more significant than it really is. If confirmed, we’ll have four women on the federal bench, which will mean women make up only 13 percent of that bench. That is an improvement on our current 9.6 percent female makeup.

A report recently released by the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society from the University at Albany, State University of New York, ranked Indiana pretty low when it came to the female composition of our benches. We’re 46th in the country in terms of the percentage of women on our federal bench; we fared a little better in state courts, where we tied for 35th place with 20.7 percent of female judges.

The report attributes this gender gap to not a lack of qualified women but lack of opportunity and access to the bench. Various legal organizations and bar associations have addressed this issue, with the latest happening tonight in Washington, D.C. While the event “How to become a judge” doesn’t specifically say it’s for women, it’s presented in part by the District of Columbia Women’s Bar Association and is comprised of a mostly female panel.

Indiana’s courts are not very diverse, especially when compared to other states. We are one of a handful of states that don’t have a woman on our Supreme Court. What needs to be done to get more qualified women and minorities on the bench?
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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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