How Diverse Are State Supreme Courts?

People of color make up about 40 percent of the population of the United States. And yet, when you look at the judges who make up each state’s supreme court, the amount of diversity is sorely lacking. According to analysis conducted earlier this year by the Brennan Center for Justice, 23 states have an all-white state supreme court bench, including 12 states in which people of color make up at least 20 percent of the population. Nationwide, only 15.5 percent of state supreme court seats are held by people of color.

And justice for all:

  • Conversely, there are six U.S. states with a supreme court bench where the percentage of non-white judges is higher than the proportion of the state’s non-white population. Those states are California, Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington.

  • Gender diversity is also somewhat lacking on these courts. Nationally, women hold 37 percent of state supreme court seats, although 15 states have one or fewer female justices. Currently, in April 2020, Florida does not have any female supreme court justices, although there are two vacancies to fill on the bench.

  • The Brennan Center says that ”a diverse bench is crucial to achieving a fair system of justice and promoting public trust in our courts.” The report added that sate supreme courts do not reflect an increasingly diverse U.S. population.

More Info: Brennan Center for Justice

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