The notion of equality is a pillar of American justice. But when it comes to equality on the bench, the American judiciary is sorely lacking. According to an article in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, women are not as well represented on the bench as they should be.
While Pennsylvania's two intermediate appellate courts are majority women, gender equality is lacking in the judiciary as a whole. The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts reports that 28 percent of judges in Common Pleas Court are women, and The Pennsylvania Bar Association's annual "Commission on Women in the Profession Report Card" found that only three counties in Pennsylvania (Washington, Philadelphia, and Allegheny) come close to realizing gender equity. Additionally, 28 counties had no female judges, and 10 additional counties only had one female judge.
Lynn Marks -- executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a nonpartisan court reform organization, and co-chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness – commented on the importance of having women on the bench. “Judges make crucial life-and-death decisions that impact virtually all aspects of our lives. So it's important not only for women litigants and women lawyers to see women as judges -- it's important for all of us in society to see women in these positions of power.”
Female judges also bring unique perspectives and life experiences to the bench which helps to create a richer, more complete discourse on the complex issues that come before the judiciary. Marks said, “Judges learn from one another. … I'm not saying judges should make decisions based on their life experience. They have to follow law and precedent. But it has a crucial effect to have decision makers have a broad range of life experience.”