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Congressional Black Caucus: Too Many Black Judges?



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Live by the quota, die by the quota?

Eleven months ago, I discussed a New York Times article that reported that the Congressional Black Caucus was complaining that “out of 787 federal [judicial] positions, only 95 are held by black judges.”* As I pointed out:

Insofar as the Congressional Black Caucus is claiming that blacks are substantially “underrepresented” in the federal judiciary, its own statistics belie its claim. For the sake of argument, let’s make the dubious assumption that the relevant benchmark for quota-mongers is the percentage of blacks in the population (rather than, say, the much lower percentage of lawyers who are black—apparently in the four to five percent range—or the even lower percentage of blacks among lawyers who have 15 or 20 years of qualifying legal experience).

According to 2010 population statistics, blacks make up 12.6% of the U.S. population. The Congressional Black Caucus’s numbers show that blacks hold 12.1% of federal judgeships. That would suggest a trivial disparity (again, even using a very favorable benchmark). Indeed, if the number of black judges grows by a mere four or five, blacks would be “overrepresented” on the federal judiciary.

Well, according to the Federal Judicial Center database search that I did today, there are now 104 black judges among the 813 filled (and “active”) federal judicial positions. That’s 12.8%—slightly exceeding the overall percentage of blacks in the U.S. population. So will the Congressional Black Caucus remain beholden to its quota mentality and urge President Obama not to nominate, and the Senate not to confirm, any more black judges (until the percentage falls to the quota level)?

* The Congressional Black Caucus’s numbers apparently excluded sitting judges who have taken senior status. So I’ve used the same measure.



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