News

Brennan Center Report Explores Diversity On State Supreme Court Benches

The Brennan Center for Justice recently updated its State Supreme Court Diversity report. The report outlines racial, ethnic and gender disparities on state high courts across the United States.
The Brennan Center for Justice recently updated its State Supreme Court Diversity report. The report outlines racial, ethnic and gender disparities on state high courts across the United States.
Credit Pixabay

A newly updated report released by the Brennan Center for Justice suggests that state Supreme Courts throughout the country are failing to reflect America’s diverse population and overall lack diversity in terms of race, ethnicity and gender.

Data findings from the latest State Supreme Court Diversity report point out several statistics — including that 22 states do not have a justice who publicly identifies as a person of color on their highest courts.

According to the report that was updated in April, from the center’s initial State Supreme Court Diversity report in 2019, there have been a total of 46 personnel changes on state Supreme Court benches since 2020, and 41 justices have recently taken office.

The report also explores detailed demographic information about justices’ professional backgrounds.

“We have had challenges on the bench with diversity for a very long time, said Ilham Askia, executive director of Gideon’s Promise, a nonprofit public defender organization. “Also, not just racial diversity, but diversity in experience.”

Along with Askia, Jonathan Rapping, a criminal defense attorney, a professor and the founder and president of Gideon’s Promise and Georgia State law professor Tanya Washington were guests on Monday’s “Closer Look.”

During the virtual radio program, the guests talked with show host Rose Scott about several topics, including their thoughts about the detailed report, why having a diverse Supreme Court is vital when it comes to ensuring the justice system is fair and equal for everyone and solutions to combat diversity challenges on the bench.

“We have to find a way to make sure judges reflect the will of everyday people, the people who are impacted by the system and whose loved ones are impacted by the system,” Rapping said.

To listen to the full conversation, click the audio player above.