The ABA Journal this month includes a piece on the "enormous differences" in how federal judges "interpret the facts" of cases involving claims of bias on grounds of race or gender.
What accounts for the juridical variability?
The race or sex of the judge.
The ABA Journal item links to a couple of studies. One reports that African-American judges rule for plaintiffs in 46 percent of racial harassment cases versus 21 percent pro-plaintiff decisions by their white colleagues. The other finds that plaintiffs win twice as often in sexual harassment suits if the court of appeals panel includes a female judge.
Blawgletter recalls that Learned Hand believed in relying on the integrity of judges who (because of life tenure) feel little pressure from public opinion. Yes, they will make mistakes, sometimes bad ones. But, he felt, they will err honestly.
We agree. But we can't help thinking that the deciders ought to reflect, at least roughly, the population that trusts them to make fair judgments.