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CONCLUSION The president wants the federal courts to look like America. He wants people who are coming to court to feel like it’s their court too. —Kathryn Ruemmler, White House counsel to President Barack Obama Significant changes in the composition of the federal appellate judiciary have occurred since the beginning of President Carter’s administration . Prior to 1977, the courts of appeals were composed entirely of white males, with only six exceptions (two white women and four African American men) in the entire history of the federal judiciary. In contrast, by the end of the George W. Bush administration, over a quarter of the sitting circuit judges were women, and 15 percent were African American or Hispanic. But have these changes actually affected judicial policy making in these courts? In a word: yes. According to the analyses presented in this volume, greater heterogeneity has affected both the processes and outcomes of judicial decision making at the individual, panel, and court levels. We begin this chapter by reviewing the major empirical findings of each chapter and then consider the implications of our findings in light of the dramatic shifts in the federal judiciary under the Obama administration. We conclude by identifying directions for further inquiry. 128 DIVERSITY MATTERS Synopsis of Major Findings Racial Identity and Minority Cleavages: African Americans and Latinos on the Bench Building on a framework that emphasizes the centrality of linked fate in evaluating the impact of racial identity, our analysis finds that judges’ votes vary by race; however, these effects are modest. Race and ethnicity effects in decision making are stronger in salient issues, such as employment discrimination, where we find African American judges are more likely than whites and Latinos to support the liberal position. This finding, along with comments from black judges, suggests that a sense of shared experiences with racial prejudice provides a powerful frame that potentially shapes judicial perceptions of civil rights issues. On matters of criminal justice policy, we find some support for our expectation that African American judges would be more skeptical of positions taken by the prosecution in appeals before their court. We did not observe similar patterns in decision making by Latino judges. Consistent with findings reported in research on state legislators, Latino judges do not share the same decisional tendencies as African American judges; in fact, they are more likely to support a conservative outcome in civil rights and criminal justice policy areas when compared to voting by black judges. However, Latino judges are not uniformly conservative in their voting. Although the estimated relationship just missed conventional levels of statistical significance, the analysis suggests that Latino judges are somewhat more supportive of the liberal position in distributive politics cases when compared to voting by white and African American judges. Women on the Bench: Empathy and Consensus Building The analysis in chapter 2 describes the experiences of those women judges who blazed a trail and pursued careers in a profession largely dominated by men. Not surprisingly, our empirical analysis finds that this trail-blazing cohort of women judges is substantially more likely to empathize with plaintiffs in sex discrimination cases. In other issue areas, however, judicial voting by women and men was quite similar. The importance of gendered socializing experi- CONCLUSION 129 ences also motivated the expectation that women will bring a “different voice” to the process of judging. The empirical findings and oral histories indicate that women opinion authors are more likely than their male colleagues to forge consensual positions and pen opinions that are longer, a finding that we argue stems from their efforts to explain outcomes to losing litigants and accommodate the views of their colleagues. Intersectionality: Variation within and across Race-Gender Cohorts Early efforts to diversify the bench resulted in greater attention given to the appointment of white women and minority men with little recognition given to the potential contributions of minority women. Consequently, there have been fewer minority women on the appellate bench than white women or minority men. Examining the backgrounds of appointees, we found evidence of a racegendered path to the bench: with only one exception (the first minority woman appointed), every other woman of color appointed to the circuit bench by 2008 had previously been a judge. Comparisons within racial groups revealed some differences in voting patterns between men and women. For instance, Latinas had a much higher percentage of liberal votes than Latinos, as did white women when compared to white men; however, African American men were slightly...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813937199
Related ISBN
9780813937182
MARC Record
OCLC
906026333
Pages
240
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-03
Language
English
Open Access
No
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