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Document Type

Article

Abstract

In 1995, the authors of a law review article examining “feminist judging” focused on the existing social science data concerning women judges and compared the voting records and opinions of the only female Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor. Based on this review, the authors concluded that appointing more women as judges would make little difference to judicial outcomes or processes. The authors accused those who advocated for more women on the bench of having a hidden feminist agenda and bluntly concluded that “[b]y any measure, feminist judges fit very uneasily in most conceptions of the proper role of the judicial system.”

More than twenty years later, scholars have a better understanding of what constitutes “feminist judging”; moving beyond the gender of those involved in making judgments, feminist judging is understood to derive from the asking of feminist questions and the application of feminist theories and methods. Current scholars also are taking a closer look at the role of feminist judicial perspectives throughout the judicial system. Through a series of “feminist judgments” projects around the globe, scholars are testing the proposition that feminist judging “fits” within the judicial role, no matter the gender of the judge. In the form of rewritten opinions based on the facts and precedent in effect at the time of the original decision, these projects demonstrate that judges who apply feminist perspectives would make a profound difference, not only in the outcomes and processes in individual cases, but also in the development of the law.

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