Measuring Diversity on the Supreme Court with Biodiversity Statistics

34 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2013

See all articles by Benjamin H. Barton

Benjamin H. Barton

University of Tennessee College of Law

Emily Moran

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: March 2013

Abstract

This article aims to accomplish two goals. The first is to introduce some of the more common statistical measures of biodiversity to the empirical study of law. The second is to measure the diversity of background on the current Supreme Court using diversity indices commonly used in ecology. We treat the Supreme Court as if it is an ecosystem, and life experiences and traits as if they are different species, and ask whether diversity in seven categories (race/ethnicity, religion, professional background, geographic background, economic background, education, and political party) has grown or shrunk over time. We then combine these categories to create a single overall diversity measure. The results demonstrate that although the current Supreme Court is more diverse overall than the longā€term historical average, there has been a recent downward trend in overall diversity, driven by decreases in diversity of educational background, geographic background, and, to a lesser extent, religious diversity. However, diversity of professional background and of childhood economic background has remained high in recent years, and racial diversity has increased greatly.

Suggested Citation

Barton, Benjamin H. and Moran, Emily, Measuring Diversity on the Supreme Court with Biodiversity Statistics (March 2013). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 10, Issue 1, pp. 1-34, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2203212 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jels.12000

Benjamin H. Barton (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States

Emily Moran

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Do you want regular updates from SSRN on Twitter?

Paper statistics

Downloads
4
Abstract Views
669
PlumX Metrics