Gender A Questionable Factor In Supreme Court Finalist List

Whether gender is a factor in the application and narrowing process for potential Supreme Court justices is hard to determine.

Courtroom

Photo: State of Indiana

Judges and lawyers from around the state have applied to be the a state Supreme Court justice.

The list of potential replacements for outgoing Indiana Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan is smaller as ten semi-finalists have been named.

Sixteen women and six men applied to fill Justice Frank Sullivan’s seat. Four of the six men were named semi-finalists by the Judicial Nominating Commission, compared to only six of the 16 women.

Only one woman has ever served on Indiana’s Supreme Court, and Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law professor Joel Schumm says he was a little surprised by a few of the people who advanced.

“I understand that some people are upset that men are overrepresented in terms of the overall applicant pool,” he says.

But Schumm says what is most important are the three finalists that will be sent to the governor next month, and how many women are on that list.

Court of Appeals judge Elaine Brown is one of the applicants who did not make the cut this time. She thought she had a good interview but says the nominating process is a mystery.

“While personally I feel gender is an important consideration, it may not be on the mind of the commission members to the extent I would have thought,” she says.

Brown says she thinks the court should have a woman on it for balance but adds the final decision is the governor’s.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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