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Gender and Judicial Selection: A Comparison of the Reagan and Carter Administrations

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 71 Issue: 3 Dated: (October-November 1987) Pages: 136-142
E Martin
Date Published
7 pages
This article compares the Carter and Reagan administrations' records of selecting female Federal judges, with attention to the factors of eligible-pool philosophy, selection process, and emphasis on ideology.
Prior to 1976 when President Carter took office, only eight women had ever served on the Federal bench. Carter appointed 11 women to the U.S. appeals courts and 29 to the Federal district courts. President Reagan, in his first term of office, appointed the first woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, 1 woman to the appeals court, and 12 women to the Federal district courts. Regarding eligible-pool philosophy, the Reagan administration appears less willing than was the Carter administration for its women judicial nominees to deviate from the male pattern of qualifications without a strong record of judicial, prosecutorial, or political experience. About 75 percent of women judges appointed by both Carter and Reagan to district courts were nominated by panels. The decline of the use of merit nominating panels under Reagan may explain some of the difference in the Carter and Reagan records of appointing female judges. A survey of sex role attitudes among female judges appointed by Carter and Reagan suggests that Reagan has been successful in selecting women judges who support his emphasis on traditional family values for women. This ideological emphasis may further decrease the size of the eligible pool of Republican women judicial candidates. 44 footnotes.


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