​WBA Issue Statement on a Diverse and Independent Judiciary

For over 100 years, the WBA has diligently devoted itself to enhancing diversity in the legal profession. It is critically important that the legal profession articulate its support for a strong, independent, and diverse judiciary.

Diversity facilitates inclusion and encompasses concepts such as race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.1 The ideal of a diverse judiciary emanates from the American principle of equal justice for all, enunciated in the Constitution. Judicial independence allows judges to be free to follow the law in deciding cases, without being affected by outside influences or pressures2. For our democratic system to continue to flourish, respect for each branch of government is crucial. 

A more diverse judiciary enhances trust in and legitimacy of the judicial branch by our citizens. It also promotes a variety of perspectives in cases brought before the bench, thereby enhancing equal treatment for all. Yet diversity in the judicial branch remains a continuing challenge, both in terms of representing society as a whole or even reflecting the diversity within the legal profession itself3.

Support for a diverse judiciary is integrally tied to the WBA’s mission, to support women both in the legal profession and in our society as a whole. The WBA has an important role in promoting a diverse judiciary by endorsing well qualified candidates who support the mission of the WBA, enhancing understanding of the role of judges, and advocating for judicial diversity and independence. The WBA also helps pave the way for future candidates for the judiciary and for judicial nominating commissions.

The WBA offers programs encouraging women and minorities to seek judicial careers. For example, to discuss enhanced opportunities for women in the judiciary, the WBA presented a Centennial year program entitled “May She Please the Court.”. The WBA also contributes to ongoing discussions and education about implicit bias and offers suggestions about methods to involve and recruit women into a wide variety of judicial careers. The WBA also supports the goals of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Diversity in the Judiciary, which has developed a Diversity Action Plan for its Judicial Division4. Looking ahead, the WBA will continue to work toward
the goal of enhancing diversity in the judiciary and throughout the legal profession.

1 About EEOC: Overview Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, www.eeoc.gov/eeoc.
2 Judicial Independence, Judicial Learning Center, judiciallearningcenter.org/judicial-independence.
3 Judicial Diversity, Brennan Center for Justice, https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/judicial-diversity-0.
4 Judicial Division Diversity Action Plan, Standing Committee on Diversity in the Judiciary, American Bar Association (2012),
www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/judicial/jd_diversityplan.authcheckdam.pdf.