Tuesday, May 6, 2014
An article from the Sunday New York Times How Not to Pick Judges by Maya Sen (political science, Rochester) has been getting a lot of media play. The takeaway is that the ABA's judicial rating system perpetuates gender and racial bias.
RESEARCH has long shown that female judges vote differently from men on issues of sex discrimination, harassment and sentencing, while black judges vote differently from whites on issues involving civil rights and affirmative action.
Still, despite decades of effort by presidents and advocacy groups to promote minority and female candidates to the bench, our 1,355 sitting federal judges remain 81 percent white and 76 percent male.
A surprising part of the problem, as I show in a new study in the Journal of Law and Courts, is linked to the American Bar Association’s system for rating judicial candidates, which plays a surprisingly large role in judge selection.
Sen's empirical research showed that:
even when matching comparable candidates, the bar association rates minorities and women significantly lower than their white or male counterparts. For example, African-Americans are 42 percentage points less likely to receive a “well qualified” (or “exceptionally well qualified,” when that category was still being used) rating than are whites who have comparable educational and professional qualifications and are nominated by the same president. Women are 19 percentage points less likely to earn a thumbs up.