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Forthcoming: Arrington, Nancy, Leeann Bass, Adam Glynn, Jeffrey K. Staton, Brian Delgado, and Staffan Lindbergh.


“Constitutional Reform and the Gender Diversification of Peak Courts.”

Project | 01
Cross-National Constitutional Court Selection and Removal Procedures

As a part of the Emory contingent of the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Judiciary Project with Dr. Jeffrey Staton, we collected and summarized the constitutionally-based selection and removal procedures for puisne judges to almost every country’s constitutional court (or highest ordinary court) from 1900 until 2010.


To balance the richness of information with ease of interpretation, we summarized each process graphically. Our data adds to the more than 400 indicators that the V-Dem projects has assembled to describe components of democracy and democratization. My role in this project was to help generate the coding protocol, organize the data collection tools in RedCap, and manage the team of undergraduate and graduate research assistants.


The first article utilizing this data is about institutional changes and gender diversity on peak courts globally (attached to the left). This paper won the Honorable Mention for Best Conference Paper Award from the APSA Law and Courts Section (2018).  


Please email for replication materials.

Project | 02
State Supreme Court Judges

Is gender a relevant selection criterion for state supreme court justices? If so, has the use of gender as a selection criterion in-hibited or promoted gender diversity on the bench?


Employing a matching design on U.S. state supreme court vacancies and replacements from 1970 to 2016, I demonstrate that patterns of judicial replacement are gendered: when women judges retire, they are disproportionately replaced by women. To determine if these patterns of replacement have been net positive or net negative for gender diversity on the bench, I compare judicial selections to the gender composition of bar membership. I find that women are selected to state supreme courts as often as expected given the gender diversity of the lawyers over time, which suggests that the use of gender as a selection criterion has neither suppressed nor unfairly advantaged women judges.


This paper won the Best Graduate Student Paper Award from the APSA Law and Courts Section (2018).

Data on state supreme court Judges who were selected or retired between 2010-2016 is available to the left. This data updates (for a few variables) Kathleeen Bratton’s State High Court Justice Database (1960-2010) for the years 2010 to 2016.

Figure 1.jpg
Project | 03
Women, Minority, and Minority-Women State SC Justices

For a chapter in The Politics of Race, Gender, and the Judiciary (Eds. Sharon Navarro and Samantha Hernandez), I collected data on the ethnic identification of state supreme court judges.  


Across the six characteristics where minority women judges can be directly compared to minority men and white women judges (ivy league education, prior judicial experience, age, selection method, party, and length of tenure), minority women are indistinguishable from minority men in all six categories. In contrast, minority women differ from white women across four categories (ivy league education, selection method, ideology, and tenure). 


Please email for replication files. 

Project | 04
Learning about Judicial Diversity: Survey Experiments

How do people come to learn about and make sense of judicial diversity? Is judicial gender diversity something people care about? Under what conditions are people most likely to notice and care about gender disparity on the bench?

Leveraging a series of preliminary survey experiments, I test  how the institutional environment shapes whether and how people care about (dis)parity on the bench. 

I find that: 

  • Respondents do care about diversity and are more likely to indicate that an all-male bench is "unfair."

  • Respondents are more critical of gender disparity when judges are selected through a merit or commission-assisted selection process relative to a gubernatorial selection process.

  • Respondents are more likely to notice gender disparity when judges are selected as a group rather than one-by-one. 

Please email for replication files. 

Arrington, Nancy. "Group Selection and Opportunities for Gender Diversity in the Judiciary" Representation.

Arrington, Nancy. 2020. "Judicial Merit Selection: Beliefs about Fairness and the Undermining of Gender Diversity on the Bench." Political Research Quarterly.

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