The Feminist-Neutrality Paradox

127 Dick. L. Rev. 101 (2023)

U of Houston Law Center No. 2023-A-11

21 Pages Posted: 1 May 2023 Last revised: 26 Oct 2023

Date Written: April 17, 2023


Female judges are vital to a well-functioning third branch of government given the long-documented link between diversity and judicial legitimacy. Beyond appearances, however, the article explores the reasons why so many empirical studies have shown that judges do not decide cases differently on account of their gender. This article describes how women must act like men to gain acceptance into the male-dominated judicial sphere and then are expected to apply precedent that has been overwhelmingly decided by men. In other words, the decisions of female (and feminist) judges are largely the same as those of their male counterparts because of systemic pressures on female judges to conform to the unstated male norm under the guise of neutrality and the rule of law. These observations are not new. But in the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – the case that erased the constitutional right to abortion with little concern for the appearance of judicial neutrality or stare decisis – this article asks whether feminists should stop playing by the rules as well.

Keywords: feminist, neutral, Dobbs

Suggested Citation

Rubin Gomez, Alissa, The Feminist-Neutrality Paradox (April 17, 2023). 127 Dick. L. Rev. 101 (2023), U of Houston Law Center No. 2023-A-11, Available at SSRN:

Alissa Rubin Gomez (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204
United States

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