Racial diversity and judicial influence (American Journal of Political Science)

By Michael Hotchkiss, Office of Communications

Adding a black judge to an appellate panel with two nonblack judges nearly ensures the panel will vote in favor of an affirmative action program, according to research by Jonathan Kastellec, an assistant professor of politics at Princeton, who has evaluated the consequences of judicial diversity on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

While Kastellec’s research also shows that black judges are significantly more likely to support affirmative action programs, the small percentage of racial minorities on the federal bench means the key question is whether their presence on appellate courts influences their colleagues and affects case outcomes.

The results have important implications for assessing the relationship between diversity and representation on federal courts.

Kastellec, J. P. (2013), Racial Diversity and Judicial Influence on Appellate Courts. American Journal of Political Science, 57: 167–183. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2012.00618.x

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