Marcia Greenberger, Co-President, National Women’s Law Center (Guest Author)
Fifty years ago, women made up barely four percent of law students. Since then, women have made significant inroads into the legal profession: for twenty-five years, approximately 45% of law students have been women; in the last decade, women’s representation has approached 50%.
This lack of progress is cause for concern because, as the readers of this blog are well aware, female judges make a difference in the courtroom. They bring to the bench an understanding of the impact of the law on women and girls, who make up over half of the US population. Female judges contribute important worldviews and experiences that round out judicial perspectives. And that contribution improves the quality of justice for men and women alike. For example, a 2010 study demonstrated that male federal appellate court judges are less likely to rule against plaintiffs bringing claims of sex discrimination if a female judge is on the panel. And confidence in the courts as a neutral purveyor of justice is higher, when judges are representative of the population they serve.
It has become increasingly clear, however, that the increased representation in the “pipeline” hasn’t yet been matched by women’s representation on the federal bench. Only 30 percent of federal judges are women, and a mere 8 percent are women of color. And unfortunately, the number of women on the federal bench has seen little improvement in recent years. read more
By Suzanne Swaner
Spring Break. To a teenaged girl in Prior Lake, Minnesota in the mid-1980s, those words signaled one thing – time to hit the tanning bed. It was an annual Rite of Spring for my girlfriends and me to purchase ten sessions from the local tanning salon (which, as an aside, was also a video store). There were two reasons to do so: (1) build up a base tan for an upcoming trip to Florida or Mexico to avoid the uncomfortable and unattractive burn and peel cycle of tanning; or (2) build up a sufficient base tan to make it appear as though we went to Florida or Mexico over Spring Break. You see, very little could top a mid-spring dark tan in the frozen tundra, especially one enhanced with big permed hair accented by Sun-In created highlights. (Sun-In, by the way, was another great invention for a Spring-Breaker, real or faux, as it worked by the heat of the real sun or the heat of the hair dryer.) The tan and the hair combined to create a look that was, like, totally awesome, at that time anyway.
Fast forward 25 years. These days, use of a tanning bed not only gives me pause, the concept of Spring Break does as well. (No comment on the highlights, although my colorist, known here only as hairsaviour, does use much-improved technology.) At the outset, I am fully aware I should be precluded from complaining about Spring Break at all. Every year our school district sends out proposed school calendars and solicits a vote before adopting the final schedule. Because they do not offer an option without Spring Break, I never vote. Perhaps next year (or the year after, since next year's calendar is probably already set) I will launch a write-in campaign to eliminate Spring Break and give everyone an extra week of summer, or to have Spring Break anytime other than spring, which also happens to be the peak of Litigation Season. read more