Lower Ratings Given to Judicial Candidates Who Aren't White Men

The American Bar Association's bias toward people of color and women is systematic and not by accident, according to a new study.  

Posted: 03/05/2013 12:00 PM EST
Lower Ratings Given to Judicial Candidates Who Aren't White Men

Judicial candidates of color and women have received lower ratings than white men from the American Bar Association, according to the research of University of Rochester professor Maya Sen.

The study, "How Judicial Qualification Ratings Matter (and Why They Maybe Shouldn't)", provides some insight as to why only 30 percent of federal judges for the U.S. District Courts are women and 22 percent are people of color.

Sen's findings suggest that the American Bar Association's low ratings are systematic and in the long run will affect how far a judicial candidate can go in their careers. 

The Washington Post reports:

First, Sen demonstrates that the ratings absolutely matter. While candidates judged qualified or well-qualified were almost certain (probably 96 to 97 percent) to be confirmed, those judged “not qualified” had only a 65 percent chance:

Then, she uses a logistic regression to determine what effect various factors have on a candidate’s likeliness to get a given ranking. She includes not just race and ethnicity but experiential factors that should affect a candidate’s ability to perform well as a judge. Those include the length of time practicing law, services as a prosecutor or public defender, quality of law school attended, and so forth. As you’d expect, time spent serving as a judge, an assistant U.S. attorney or a law clerk all increase a candidate’s odds of getting a good ranking. But three factors are associated with increased odds of getting a bad rating: being Black, being Hispanic and being female.

Read full story here.

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