Supreme Court more diverse than lawyers who argue before it The justices are more diverse than the lawyers who argue before them. And a larger share of women, blacks and Latinos are ruling.
It would be impossible to write a book about the Supreme Court without addressing its makeup. Its seven justices are the most visible faces of the nation’s highest court. Their decisions are the law and precedent for the rest of the country.
But when the justices are assembled for argument they are about 40 percent more diverse than the lawyers who argue before them. And their opinions written for the nation’s highest court are also more diverse than the lawyers who write for themselves.
The justices are more diverse than the lawyers who argue before them. And a larger share of women, blacks and Latinos are ruling.
To understand the composition of the court, we asked the most recent five justices, in this order, about their race and gender in a questionnaire posted on the Supreme Court website in January 2015. Three of the five justices had a direct role in the writing or reviewing of the questions: John Paul Stevens, who authored the first question, wrote the others.
Among the 545 justices, about 21 percent — 43 out of 193 — are black, and only 6 percent are female. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are the only women to have served on the court, and each served there for 10 years. In contrast, five of the nine male justices are white, all of whom are in their 80s.
“Our court is now more diverse than we thought five years ago,” Steven P. Rosen, the dean of Yale Law School and an expert on the Supreme Court, told The Washington Post.
Stevens’ question reflects how the court’s more diverse makeup has come to pass. It’s not that the justices are necessarily more diverse than the lawyers who argue before them. The lawyers, including a lawyer who argued a Supreme Court case in front of Stevens, were asked to think of themselves as having the same racial, ethnic and gender demographic profiles that their colleagues on the court have.
The question on the other hand asked what would happen to the court’s diversity if the justices had the same demographic profile as the lawyers who argue before them.
And the answer is