Wednesday, January 26, 2022
In this short Essay, we discuss the lack of racial and gender diversity on and around the Supreme Court. As we note, the ranks of the Court’s Justices and its clerks historically have been dominated by white men. But this homogeneity is not limited to the Court’s members or its clerks. As we explain, much of the Court’s broader ecosystem suffers from this same lack of diversity. The advocates who argue before the Court are primarily white men; the experts cited in the Court’s opinions, as well as the experts on whom Court commentators rely in interpreting those opinions, are often white men; and the commentators who translate the Court’s work for the public are also largely white men. We suggest this lack of diversity has consequences both for the Court’s work and for the public’s understanding of the Court. We also identify some of the factors that contribute to the lack of diversity in the Court’s ecosystem, including unduly narrow conceptions of expertise and a rigid insistence on particular notions of neutrality. We also note and discuss our own modest efforts to disrupt these dynamics with Strict Scrutiny, our podcast about the Supreme Court and the legal culture that surrounds it. To be sure, a podcast, by itself, will not dismantle the institutional factors that we have identified in this Essay. Nevertheless, we maintain that our efforts to use the podcast as a platform for surfacing these institutional dynamics, while simultaneously cultivating a more diverse cadre of Supreme Court experts and commentators, is a step in the right direction.
With the title derived from British feminist writer Virginia Woolf's famous essay, A Room of One's Own (1929).
All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point--a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.