Studies Confirm that Diversity on the Bench is Key to Equal Justice
By Faisal Kutty
Two recent studies conclude that a judge’s race or gender makes for a dramatic difference in the outcome of cases they hear—at least for cases in which race and gender are factors. This should not surprise most people, but the studies do bring to the fore a number of interesting issues.
First, it does provide support for the view that the judiciary must be reflective of the community they serve and broader society if we are to achieve equity and a modicum of equal justice. Indeed, as one would expect, a judge’s life experiences, insights and perspectives influence their decisions.
Second, it raises questions about the impartiality and neutrality of the judiciary.
Indeed, as human beings with inherent biases, influences and emotions could we ever expect mechanical neutrality and objectivity? I suspect the answer is an unequivocal, no.
Of course, this only reinforces the argument that the bench — and all our institutions for that matter — must reflect society itself so that the resulting exposure, interaction, and breaking down of barriers may contribute to a leveling of the playing field.
As more female and minority law students make their way into the profession, it would be a travesty of justice if we did not see a significant and speedy increase in their representation on the bench.
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