Only One Black Lawyer Presented to the Supreme Court This Term

One African-American lawyer presented to the justices for just over 11 minutes out of the 75 hours of hearings.

Posted: 05/13/2013 09:03 AM EDT

The racial and gender makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court shows some diversity with three women, a Hispanic and an African-American comprising of the nine justices, who are still majority white men.  

And the lawyers who argue before the justices show a similar racial representation. Between October and April, only one African-American lawyer presented to the justices for just over 11 minutes out of the 75 hours of hearings this past term.

Women and Hispanics were better represented but in no way comparable to white men. Four Hispanic lawyers argued for 1 hour, 45 minutes while women made up 17 percent of the arguments.

Another trend showed that women and minority lawyers were more likely to represent governments and public-interest firms than private practices, where bigger checks are signed.

Networks within private firms have been traditionally white and male, and women and minorities have made slow gains in these arenas in recent years.

The Associated Press reports:

The numbers generally reflect the largely white and male upper reaches of the biggest and richest private law firms, where there have been small gains by women and minorities in the past 20 years. A recent survey by the Association for Legal Career Professionals found that more than 93 percent of partners in law firms are white and nearly 80 percent are men.

The statistics from the court term, though, also reveal a lack of African-American and Hispanic lawyers in the elite Justice Department unit that represents the federal government at the Supreme Court.

The top supervisory positions in the Office of the Solicitor General all are held by men, though there are six women in the office who argued high court cases this term.

The office serves as a pipeline to the big firms that dominate the argument calendar at the court. Lawyers in the office make several arguments a term and acquire the experience and ease of standing before the justices that make them attractive to private firms.

Read full story here.

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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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