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A Diverse Court for a Diverse Citizenry

Some of our country’s greatest legal minds sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. When a nominee for our nation’s highest court is announced (as was the case in March of this year) much time is spent discussing the background of the nominee, including which school he or she went to or what publications she has authored. What sometimes gets lost in the conversation is the nominee’s core background and why that matters.


What Does Diversity Look Like on the Supreme Court?

Historically, the Supreme Court Justice has not been a diverse group. Only in the past several decades have Presidents even nominated candidates who fell outside the categories of white, Protestant, and male. There have been 112 Supreme Court Justices, 108 of them male, and only 4 female. Only 2 have been African American. The first, Thurgood Marshall, began serving in 1967 and the second Clarence Thomas is currently on the Court. In 1981, 205 years after the creation of the Supreme Court, the country got the first female Justice, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In the 35 years since, women’s role on the Court has increased. Now, the Court has three female justices, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Justice Elena Kagan Justice, and Sonia Sotomayor, who is a Latina as well.