Although women and minorities hold an increasing share of judgships in the United States, they remain underrepresented. We explore Americans’ perceptions of the bias of women and minority judges – one of the possible challenges to creating a diverse bench. We argue that prejudice against these groups manifests in a subtle way, in the belief that diverse judges cannot fairly adjudicate controversies that involve their ingroup. To test our theory, we use a list experiment specifically developed to minimize social desirability effects. We find that many respondents rate female and Hispanic judges to be biased decision makers. Our results highlight the nature of prejudice against female and Hispanic judges and suggest multiple important implications. They shed light on the reasons why female and Hispanic candidates for judgships may win at a lower rate and also suggest negative implications for the legitimacy of their decisions.
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For financial support, Yoshikuni Ono thanks the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research: 17K03523, 18H00813, 19H01449, 19H00584, and 20H00059).
This study was conducted as part of the project “Research on Political Behavior and Decision Making: Searching for Evidence-based Solutions to Political Challenges in the Economy and Industry” at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
Ono, Yoshikuni and Zilis, Michael A., "Do Americans Perceive Diverse Judges as Inherently Biased" (2021). Political Science Faculty Publications. 19.