12 bar associations stress the importance of judicial diversity following Supreme Court decision

September 11, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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In a recently published joint statement, a coalition of 12 bar associations underscored the importance of maintaining and increasing diversity within the judiciary.

Anthony Perrotto, president of the LGBT Bar Association, part of the coalition of 12 emphasizing the importance of a diverse judiciary.

The announcement, which came on behalf of bar associations including the LGBT Bar Association of New York, the Asian American Bar Association of New York, Caribbean Attorneys Network and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, among others, came on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, which is known for ending affirmative action.

“Diversity not only promotes public trust and confidence but, as set forth below, the interplay of diverse viewpoints also improves judicial decision making,” the statement said. “The selection of judges must promote these important goals.”

The coalition expressed its commitment to bolstering diversity, equity, and inclusion in both the selection and promotion processes for judges. This statement emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the judiciary reflects the diversity of the populace it represents. The inclusion of varied perspectives is deemed crucial, not only to bolster public trust but also to enhance the quality of judicial decision-making.

The decision in Students for Fair Admissions presents a particular challenge, as it alters how educational institutions, potentially including law schools, work towards ensuring diverse student bodies, the statement explained. This could have downstream effects on the future makeup of the legal profession and the judiciary.

Janice Grubin and Mike Weiner, co-chairs of the Judiciary Committee and contributors to the statement, highlighted the unity of the 12 bar associations in their endorsement of the joint declaration. They reiterated the importance of a diverse judiciary and an ongoing commitment to fostering a qualified and varied pool of candidates for the bench.

Recent analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice has backed the coalition’s statement, presenting data that supports Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s assertion that a judge’s personal experiences can influence their decision-making. Their findings indicate that greater representation in the judicial system promotes increased political involvement among younger generations and bolsters respect for the courts.

The statement also suggests that the selection of judges, whether appointed or elected, should consider the benefits of a diverse judiciary. A footnote from Chief Justice John Roberts in the Students for Fair Admissions Decision was cited, which alludes to potential differences in considerations between educational institutions and U.S. service academies, emphasizing the importance of diversity in leadership roles, such as in the armed forces.

Historically active in nurturing judicial diversity, these associations, which also feature the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, Dominican Bar Association and the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, have been at the forefront of initiatives like educating members about judicial paths, mentorship programs and participating in judicial evaluations. They are now pledging to augment these efforts, with future endeavors to include outreach to educational entities, job fairs and recruitment drives at law schools.

Concluding their statement, the coalition expressed a collective dedication to counteracting any negative implications from the Supreme Court decision. Representing a broad spectrum of legal professionals from the Puerto Rican Bar Association to the South Asian Bar Association of New York and beyond, these associations remain steadfast in their mission to uphold justice through a diverse judiciary.

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