Posts tagged ‘litigation’

April 22, 2011

Where are all the women SCOTUS litigants?

by Angela N. Johnson

At the time Tammy Sarver, Erin Kaheny, and John Szmer wrote The Attorney Gender Gap in U.S. Supreme Court Litigation, women occupied less than a quarter of the US. district court and courts of appeals seats, just one woman sat on the Supreme Court, and only 20 percent of law school deans were women (Sarver, Kaheny and Szmer 2008). Thankfully, the current statistics reflect some improvement, with women comprising roughly 1/3 of all judgeships (including 3/9 on the U.S. Supreme Court).  However, the number of women attorneys arguing in the United States Supreme Court continues to lag and the “leaky pipeline” seems to be at fault. While one may hastily conclude that the problem plagues only those women who have an interest in litigating in the highest court of the land, a closer look reveals that this disparity impacts all women (even nonlawyers, too!)  According to the authors, “Because the Supreme Court makes policies that affect the entire nation, and the attorneys that participate in litigation before the Court, in turn, influence the justices’ decisions, the makeup of the Supreme Court Bar is of paramount importance” Id. at 239.  To investigate the gender gap, the authors collected data on all attorneys participating before the Court over the 1993-2001 terms. Moreover, the authors explore some of the possible explanations for their findings.

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March 17, 2011

Women Lawyers at the Supreme Court

by Angela N. Johnson

The title would lead you to believe I am referring to Justices O’Connor, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. With all but O’Connor now serving, 3 of the 9 justices of the highest court of the land are women. 3/9 or 33.33% is a pretty phenomenal number considering it wasn’t until 1981 that there were any women on the bench at all.  Yet, just 15% of the court’s cases are argued by female litigators. According to an ABA Journal article, the most appearances by any female lawyer are those of Beatrice Rosenberg who served as a Justice Department lawyer in the 50’s and 60’s. Washington litigator, Lisa Blatt has the most appearances (30) of any living woman litigator.Moreover, women have represented just 1/3 of Supreme Court law clerks and six of the 20 lawyers in the Solicitor General’s Office are women.

For more statistics, be sure to check out my “Stats at a Glance” page.