Snapshot of Biden’s Second-Year Efforts to Diversify Federal Judiciary Shows Record-Breaking Improvements, but More Remains to Be Done
As President Biden continues to fulfill his key commitment to diversify the federal judiciary with picks from a range of racial, gender, ethnic and professional backgrounds, a new report released today by Lambda Legal finds that despite the progress, the president continues to fall short in appointing LGBTQ+ nominees. The report asserts that while there has been a 0.6% increase in LGBTQ+ judges on the federal bench since last year, the LGBTQ+ population of the U.S. has increased, creating a more significant gap in LGBTQ+ representation from our reporting last year.
“While we applaud President Biden for doing more than his predecessors to have a federal judiciary that better reflects the diversity of this country and the legal profession, the administration and U.S. Senate need to increase the number of LGBTQ+ people nominated to the bench,” said Kristine Kippins, deputy legal director for policy at Lambda Legal. “The administration and home state senators must prioritize nominating LGBTQ+ people of color and our country’s first transgender, nonbinary, bisexual, intersex, and living with HIV nominees who will bring a voice and perspective sorely missing from our jurisprudence, contributing to the rehabilitation of the legitimacy of these important institutions which have such a profound impact on the lives of many.”
Among the report’s key findings:
With the increase in people who openly identify as LGBTQ+ in the United States and the few new confirmations of openly LGBTQ+ judges, the gap in LGBTQ+ representation on the federal bench increased from what we reported last year. The most recent polling shows that 7.1% of the U.S. population is LGBTQ+ but only account for 2.2% of the federal bench.
While there has been a 0.6% increase in LGBTQ+ judges on the federal bench since last year, the gap between the percentage of LGBTQ+ federal judges and the LGBTQ+ population of the U.S. has grown from 4% to 4.9% since Lambda Legal’s 2022 report.
Geographically, Colorado, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico now have lesbian or gay representation on the federal bench. However, there are still 31 states in the U.S. that remain without any LGBTQ+ judges on either the district or circuit courts.
Most of the Midwest and the South still have never seen a single LGBTQ+ nominee. Furthermore, the country has never seen an openly bisexual, transgender, non-binary, or intersex judicial nominee.
As of March 28, 2023, there are 40 current and 24 future vacancies without pending nominees at the district and circuit courts. Thirty-one of vacancies are in 17 states and 5 federal circuits currently without any LGBTQ+ representation on the bench.
The report concludes by recommending the Biden administration continue to nominate qualified LGBTQ+ people to the federal bench, particularly LGBTQ+ people of color; bisexual, transgender, non-binary, or intersex people; LGBTQ+ nominees with disabilities; and people openly living with HIV. In addition, attention to locations that currently have no LGBTQ+ judges, particularly the U.S. South, where over half of all Black LGBTQ+ adults in the U.S. reside.
A copy of the full report released by Lambda Legal today can be downloaded by clicking here.