Jul 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Mapped: Diversity in state high courts

Share of judges of color on state Supreme Courts
Editor's note: This map has been corrected to show that 50% of Washington justices are people of color, not 5%; Data: Bren­nan Center for Justice; Map: Baidi Wang/Axios

There are no high court justices who identify as a person of color in 20 states, while women make up less than a quarter of the bench in 10 states, according to data from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Why it matters: State high courts rule on crucial cases ranging from how people can vote to whether district lines are gerrymandered to when women have legal access to abortion. With the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last month, some activists see state supreme court elections this November as one of the last firewalls to protecting abortion access.

By the numbers: As of May 18, just 18% of state high court justices were Black, Latino, Asian Amer­ican, Native Amer­ican, or multiracial — compared to more than 40% of the U.S. population.

Share of state supreme court justices who are women
Data: Brennan Center for Justice; Map: Nicki Camberg/Axios

Nine states only have one woman serving as a high court justice.

  • In 10 of the 13 states with "trigger laws" banning abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, women make up less than 50% of justices on the state supreme court.
  • That includes in Mississippi (11%) and Louisiana (14%), which have the lowest percentage of female justices in the country.

What's new: 25 new justices took office between the last time Brennan Center released data on the diversity of state supreme courts and mid-May.

  • Of those 25, ten are people of color.
  • Fifteen are women.
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