When you step into a federal courtroom in America, chances are good you’re standing in front of a judge who spent much of his or her career representing corporations or working as a prosecutor. For decades, presidents of both parties have defaulted to nominating former prosecutors or corporate lawyers.
Demand Justice is fighting to restore balance to the courts by supporting a diverse group of lawyers with experience representing real people and advocating for our rights. In 2019, Demand Justice called for a moratorium on the appointment of corporate law partners to federal judgeships to restore balance to the bench. You can read our case for professional diversity in The Atlantic here. Demand Justice’s call has been supported by a range of progressive organizations and stakeholders. You can see a list of supporting groups here.
Jobs, Judges, & Justice: The Relationship between Professional Diversity and Judicial Decisions
Research shows that the overrepresentation of corporate lawyers and prosecutors has real-world consequences. Joanna M. Shepherd, Vice Dean and Thomas Simmons Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law, found that those types of lawyers are substantially more likely to rule against workers when they become judges. Read the full report here.
To see the kinds of diverse, brilliant lawyers we think should be on the bench, check out our Supreme Court shortlist.
Biden’s Vision for the diversifying the bench
President Biden has recognized the need for reform, calling on senators to recommend judges with experience as public defenders, civil rights lawyers, legal aid lawyers, and lawyers who advocate for working people and economic justice. You can read more about his professionally diverse nominees here. And you can see if your senator has responded to our call, with dozens of other progressive organizations, to promise to abide by Biden’s promise here.
Demand Justice Institute
Demand Justice is committed to elevating lawyers who have put the fight for justice and equality at the center of their careers at the state level, too. The Demand Justice Institute is a state-based program for promising attorneys who have placed the fight for justice and equality at the center of their careers and who may be interested in becoming judges in the future. Participants will deepen their leadership skills, learn about what it takes to be a judge, and better understand challenges to achieving equal justice in our courts system.