The letter discussed in this release is available at: http://bit.ly/1i60yyt

APRIL 22, 2014 – Dozens of organizations based or operating in California have sent a letter to California’s United States Senators today urging them to fill federal court vacancies with judges “who are not only exceptionally qualified but who also reflect the full diversity of the legal profession.”

The letter praises Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for making “extraordinary progress in the personal diversity of our federal judges in California,” but explains that“[a] truly diverse judiciary … is one that not only reflects the personal diversity of the nation, but also includes judges who come from all corners of the legal profession—and particularly those who have worked in the public interest, representing those whose voices are otherwise rarely heard.”

Home state senators play a key role in the judicial selection process.  Typically, they recommend nominees for federal district courts to the White House and are consulted closely on nominees for Circuit Courts of Appeals.  Two district court judgeships are vacant in California now.

“There are more federal judgeships in California than any other state,” said Rebecca Cappy, west coast director of Alliance for Justice, which drafted the letter.  “As current judges retire, Senators Feinstein and Boxer are likely to have many opportunities to broaden the range of professional diversity on the federal bench.”

The letter notes that

like all human beings, judges are the product of their background and experiences, including their professional lives before taking the bench. When a judge decides whether a claim is “plausible,”  or whether a witness is “credible,” or whether police officers, when they stopped and searched a pedestrian, acted “reasonably,”  her determination is necessarily influenced by the nature of her work as a lawyer up to that point. Thus, when judges have varied professional backgrounds, they are equipped to understand the views of each litigant before them, and to render more informed, thorough decisions.

 Find out more about professional diversity on the federal bench 

Alliance for Justice is a national association of over 100 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society. Through our justice programs, we lead the progressive community in the fight for a fair judiciary, and through our advocacy programs, we help nonprofits and foundations to realize their advocacy potential.  Learn more about Alliance for Justice at afj.org. Learn more about our work on nonprofit advocacy at www.bolderadvocacy.org