Published on: Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Of the 94 federal district courts, 25 have never had a non-White judge (article available here).

It’s not just an issue in the South: Fifteen states from the Northeast to the upper Great Plains have courts on the list.

Nowhere is the disparity more jarring than in Georgia’s Southern District, a venue that includes the cities of Savannah and Augusta and 43 counties that line the coast and pack the state’s southeastern corner. Nearly one-third of the district’s residents are Black, making it the most diverse of any judicial district that has only ever had White judges.

Judge James Randal Hall , the chief judge of the Southern District, declined an interview request. In an email, he told Bloomberg Law he hasn’t heard from the legal community about the lack of African American representation on the court, adding it’s up to the president and the state’s US senators to diversify the bench.

Diversifying the federal courts was a hallmark of President Barack Obama’s tenure: Nearly a fifth of his judicial appointees were Black — and President Joe Biden already has topped that record.

The rising politicization of the judicial nominations process is partly to blame for why many district courts have never integrated, said a University of Georgia professor who researches judicial diversity. Republicans want reliable conservatives on the bench, and they tend to be White and male.