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Political Science


While theoretical justifications predict that a judge’s gender and race may influence judicial decisions, empirical support for these arguments has been mixed. However, recent increases in judicial diversity necessitate a reexamination of these earlier studies. Rather than examining individual judges on a single characteristic, such as gender or race alone, this research note argues that the intersection of individual characteristics may provide an alternative approach for evaluating the effects of diversity on the federal appellate bench. The results of cohort models examining the joint effects of race and gender suggest that minority female judges are more likely to support criminal defendants’ claims when compared to their colleagues on the bench, even after controlling for other important factors. This suggests that our understanding of judicial behaviors may be assisted by the inclusion of how individual characteristics overlap rather than examining those characteristics alone.

Original Publication Information

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:

Collins, Todd and Laura Moyer. "Gender, Race, and Intersectionality on the Federal Appellate Bench." 2008. Political Research Quarterly 61(2): 219-227.

which has been published in final form at