Diversity Missing Among SCOTUS Clerks

By George Khoury, Esq. on December 13, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you're not sitting down, you might want to, because a recent NLJ report breaks down the complete lack of diversity among SCOTUS justices' clerks. And while that probably isn't that surprising, some of the specific stats might be.

For example, the social media favorite, Justice Ginsburg, The Notorious RBG, only hired one African American law clerk in the over two decades she's been a SCOTUS justice (and she never hired an African American clerk while sitting on the Circuit Court in DC).

So, what's going on? If even the justice everyone would've thought would be pro-diversity isn't hiring minorities, are any of the justices? Surprisingly, the High Court does not keep records on this, though that's likely because the majority of clerks have always been, and continue to be, white men.

Below, you can read some highlights, or lowlights, from the report's findings.

Dismal Numbers Ahead

Justice Sotomayor leads the other justices when it comes to diversity amongst law clerks. Just under a third of her clerks are non-white. On the other end of the spectrum, Justice Alito joins Ginsberg in having only hired one African American clerk since being appointed to the High Court. It is worth noting that Justice Ginsburg, like Justice Thomas, since 2005, has hired minorities for just over 10% of her clerks. Justice Roberts trails with 8% minority hiring.

When it comes to gender equality, Justices Ginsburg and Breyer are the only ones with near equal numbers for hiring male and female clerks. It's noted that Justice Kennedy hired six times as many male clerks than female clerks in his time since 2005. Overall, there are twice as many male clerks, despite the fact that women make up more than half of the law student population.

Overall, the report notes that 85% of the clerks, since 2005 (which is the year Justice Roberts became Chief Justice), have been white. Only 20 of the total 487 clerks hired were African American. Only 8 were Hispanic.

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