Report finds New Hampshire courts lack gender, racial diversity
NH Women’s Foundation offers recommendations to increase number of women people of color in state judicial ranks
A new Gender Matters report from the NH Women’s Foundation has found that only 38 percent of all state court judges are women, with even smaller ratios of women judges in the state’s Superior Courts and Supreme Court.
In addition, the report found, only one person of color is serving as a judge at any level of the New Hampshire judicial system, and that person is also the only woman of color. In New England, New Hampshire is tied with Rhode Island for the lowest percent of women on the state Supreme Court (20 percent, or one of five justices).
“Representation matters in all branches of government,” said Tanna Clews, CEO of the Women’s Foundation. “As we celebrate the long-overdue milestone of the first Black woman nominated to the US Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, we see many opportunities in New Hampshire to increase gender and racial diversity among New Hampshire judges.”
The foundation’s report highlights the role governors have in achieving gender parity in the New Hampshire judiciary. Governor Hassan’s administration appointed the highest percentage of women, 48 percent.
The report also looks at the impact of the Judicial Selection Committee, New Hampshire women of historic significance in the judiciary, and the efforts of the New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association’s “Path to the Bench” sessions.
As part of the report, the Women’s Foundation has made several policy recommendations to increase gender and racial diversity in the New Hampshire judiciary:
- Governors should nominate more women and people of color at a rate that would achieve equity in all levels of the New Hampshire state judicial branch comparable with New Hampshire’s population.
- The governor should appoint members with gender and racial diversity to the Judicial Selection Commission.
- With safeguards to protect the anonymity of the application process, the Judicial Selection Commission should publish the number or percent of women and people of color who have applied for judgeships and the number or percent they recommend to the Governor for each vacancy.
- The NH Bar Association should collect and publish the gender and racial diversity of its membership on a regular basis. This data would be the basis to understanding trends in the pipeline to the bench.
- Women attorneys could benefit from a mentorship program that supports career trajectory and opportunities, including judgeships.
To see the full report, visit nhwomensfoundation.org/gm2022judiciary.