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  • Amali Curry

Black Women Represent Fewer than 2% of U.S. Federal Judgeships to Date

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

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A new Pew analysis has revealed that of the 3,843 people who have served as judges in the U.S. federal judiciary, just 70 – or 1.8% – have been Black women. Pictured above is Constance Baker Motley, the first Black woman to serve as a federal judge.

Some history:

Using data from the Federal Judicial Center (the research arm of the federal judiciary), Pew found that while 70 Black women have served as judges, that represents fewer than a third (29%) of the 239 Black judges ever appointed. Of those Black women judges, most have served at the district court level, with only 13 seated on courts of appeals.

Partisan differences:

According to Pew, the number of Black women judges has grown over time, especially during Democratic administrations. Since his inauguration, President Biden has already appointed the most Black women to federal judgeships (11) than all but two of his predecessors (President Obama with 26 and President Clinton with 15 during their eight-year terms).

Among the most recent Republican presidents, President George W. Bush leads the way having appointed eight Black women during his tenure, followed by President George H.W. Bush and President Trump, who each appointed two. President Reagan appointed one.

Biden’s SCOTUS nominee:

Biden has sworn to nominate a Black woman to fill Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the Supreme Court. If confirmed, along with being the first Black woman to serve on the nation's highest court, they’d be its third Black justice and sixth woman.

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