Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Oregon Justices Share Experience of Sitting on Majority Female Bench

Justices of the Oregon Supreme Court

Oregon Justices Share Experiences of Sitting on Majority Female Bench (video)

For the first time in state history, there are more women than men sitting on the Oregon Supreme Court.***

 

Justice Rebecca Duncan was the female justice to tip the scale after being appointed to the bench by Governor Kate Brown in May of 2017.

 

Duncan told FOX 12 the fact that the majority of justices are women is very meaningful, not only for her and the other women on the court, but also for women and girls across the state.

 

“It sends the signal that times do change and progress can be made,” she said. “I heard from people who were incredibly excited, and there were people who had gone to law school, or where law school wasn’t even really an option for them at the time they were entering their professional lives just because of what was viewed as available career paths for women, and they were so excited to see what had been a limit no longer existing.”

 

Justice Martha Lee Walters, Justice Lynn Nakamoto and Justice Meagan Aileen Flynn said they too have heard similar stories since that momentous day.

 

“Everybody wants to know that they’re going to be heard if they appear before a court of law.  What’s the most important thing to them? That they’re going to be listened to, that they think they’re going to have a fair hearing,” Walters explained. “So, if people see people on the bench who they think are similar to them in some way, it makes them think, ‘Oh, there’s someone who I think will listen to me.’ So, we need to have great diversity.”***

 

 

 

The four justices say they are honored to sit on Oregon’s highest court and hope this historic appointment encourages other young women to pursue similar interests.

 

“It’s nice to see that women have now gotten into more senior positions,” Nakamoto said. “That they are in a position to be on a high court."

 

There will soon be a fifth female justice in Oregon after Governor Brown announced Monday that Judge Adrienne Nelson from the Multnomah County Circuit Court will be replacing the retiring Justice Jack Landau.

 

The four current justices also told FOX 12 they are hopeful that majority-female supreme courts will one day be nothing notable at all and instead will be common.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/gender_law/2018/01/oregon-justices-share-experience-of-.html

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