A Tulane University study finds women and racial minorities are not widely present in Louisiana’s judicial system. The report says women make up 51% of Louisiana’s population, only 30% of state judgeships are held by women. Political scientist Sally Kenney with Tulane’s Newcomb College Institute says we need to start conversations about women and minority inclusion.
“We could encourage more women and minority men to run for judicial office and also encourage those that are serving on the lower rungs of the judiciary to run for higher judicial office,” Kenney said.
Racial minorities make up only 23% of judgeships in Louisiana, while accounting for 36% of the population. Kenney says the judicial system being dominated by white males can affect how fair people perceive the system to be.
“If they don’t see themselves represented on the bench, they can lack confidence that the decisions are fair, much that we question the fairness of all white or all male juries,” Kenney said.
The report found similar numbers for federal courts based in Louisiana, with women constituting 40% of judges and racial minorities making up only 14%. Kenney says the US Senate advises and consents for those judgeships. She says there are over 100 judicial vacancies in the country, and many senators have declined to give approval to fill those positions.
“If the Senate is determined not to replace judges who retire, I think we’re going to see even more judicial emergencies in federal judicial districts,” Kenney said.