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Judging Alone: Reflections on the Importance of Women on the Court

  • Karen O'Connor (a1) and Alixandra B. Yanus (a2)

“The word I would use to describe my position on the bench is lonely.” So said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2007, when asked to comment on her position on the U.S. Supreme Court after the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. After a year as the Court's only woman, Ginsburg had begun to feel the solitude that comes from judging alone, being the Court's only descriptive and often symbolic representative of women's interests. Ginsburg's position was not, sadly, as rare as we might hope in industrialized democracies. Although some countries, such as Canada, have had near majorities of women on their respective high courts, other countries, such as the United Kingdom, continue to have only one woman on their national tribunals.

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Gerald S. Gryski , Eleanor C. Main , and William J. Dixon . 1986. “Models of State High Court Decision Making in Sex Discrimination Cases.” Journal of Politics 48: 143–55.

Patricia Yancey Martin , John R. Reynolds , and Shelley Keith . 2002. “Gender Bias and Feminist Consciousness Among Judges and Attorneys: A Standpoint Theory Analysis.” Signs 27: 665702.

Karen O'Connor , and Jeffrey A. Segal . 1990. “Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the Supreme Court's Reaction to Its First Female Member.” Women & Politics 10: 95104.

Barbara Palmer . 2002. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Supreme Court's Reaction to Its Second Female Member.” Women & Politics 24: 123.

Donald R. Songer , Sue Davis , and Susan Haire . 1994. “A Reappraisal of Diversification in the Federal Courts: Gender Effects in the Courts of Appeals.” Journal of Politics 56: 425–39.

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Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
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