Gender Diversity of District Judges in Kansas: What Do the Numbers Show?
17 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2011
Date Written: July 28, 2011
One of the "first principles" in judicial selection is "representativeness"; that is, the idea that judges should be "representative" of the community they serve. Representativeness means that judges should reflect the diversity of their community in race, gender, religion and life experience, because each of these factors can affect perspectives on justice. Not only does a representative judiciary promote public confidence in the courts, but judges from diverse backgrounds often bring new insights regarding the law and its operation.
Although much has been written about the need for more racial and ethnic diversity in the Courts, comparatively less has been written until recently regarding gender diversity, at least on the state level. However, gender diversity is an important quality in the makeup of a representative judiciary.
Judicial selection is an area in which accurate numbers are vitally important. Without numbers, it becomes far too easy to make generalized statements. This article compiles and studies the numbers and genders of attorneys and judges in Kansas, and attempts to use those numbers to address three questions: 1) How big is the disparity in judicial gender diversity in Kansas; 2) what are the obstacles that make attaining judicial diversity in Kansas difficult; and 3) what are some of the ways that the judicial system can be made to be more gender diverse?
With regard to gender diversity, Kansas is not bad in many respects, but can strive to do better. While the state has come a long way, it still has a long way to go. If progress is to continue, there must be an understanding of the obstacles to diversity and a search for ways to overcome them. Just as important, however, is the collection of accurate data through which progress can be judged. Only through an understanding of what we have accomplished can we understand where we need to go.
Keywords: Judicial Selection, Diversity, Merit System, Judicial Elections
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