Jul 15, 2022 - News

Colorado's high courts are almost as diverse as the state

Judges in robes and face-masks sit underneath a circular window during a hearing at the Ralph Carr Judicial Center in Denver.
The Colorado Supreme Court meets inside the Ralph Carr Judicial Center in December 2021. Photo: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Colorado's Supreme Court closely reflects the state's overall ethnic makeup.

Why it matters: Sitting judges decide on important cases with lasting and sometimes immediate impacts on people and systems through rulings on civil and criminal law.

  • Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, many activists now view November's general election as one of the last firewalls protecting abortion access, Axios' Stef W. Kight writes.

Details: Judges of color represent at least 29% of Colorado's seven supreme court justices; two are Latino.

  • People of color comprise roughly one-third of Colorado's 5.8 million residents.
  • Latinos make up about 22% of the state's population.
  • Justice Monica M. Márquez became the first Latina and first out LGBTQ woman on the state's highest court when she was appointed in 2010.
  • The Colorado Supreme Court has a slightly higher number of justices of color than the national rate. Only 18% of high court justices were Black, Latino, Asian American, Native American or multicultural as of May 18.

The big picture: Three of the seven high court justices in Colorado (43%) are women.

  • That's slightly more than the national rate (41%). Nine states have just one woman serving on their respective supreme courts.
  • Challenges remain. An independent investigation found that women who work for the state’s judicial department "consistently held a dimmer view of their work environment than men," the Denver Post reported this week.

Yes, but: There are no Black justices in the Colorado Supreme Court or on the Court of Appeals, reports the Denver Gazette.

  • Black residents make up roughly 5% of the state's population.
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