How Minority Judicial Candidates Have Changed, but the ABA Ratings Gap Has Not


Recent studies have questioned whether American Bar Association (ABA) ratings of judicial nominees are skewed against minority candidates.  However, a strong critique of these findings is that they are being driven by appointments made at a time of greater inequality in terms of education and preparedness.  In this paper, I address these questions.  First, I provide evidence that the educational and professional backgrounds of minority judicial nominees have indeed shifted over time, and that minority judges increasingly attend prestigious law schools and have clerkship experience.  Second, however, I show that the gap in ABA ratings between minority and white candidates continues into recent years, despite this trend.  My results therefore contribute to a growing literature calling into question the ongoing use of subjective ratings of judicial candidates.

Last updated on 11/30/2014