Women of the Supreme Court
by Prathusha Yeruva
When asked when the Supreme Court of the United States would finally be equal in respect to gender equality, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg responded that it would be equal, “when there were nine [women].” Ginsburg commented that, “people are shocked,” when she says that, “but there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that”. There are currently three women on the Supreme Court: Justice Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Elena Kagan. Although they only constitute three out of the nine (eight since Scalia’s death) justices, their existence still remains a momentous gain for women’s issues in America.
This June, the Court is expected to hear an abortion case out of Texas that challenges the decision of Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion in America. This case is extremely important to the pro-choice movement and skirts one of America’s most contentious issues. However, it’s important to focus on more than just the politics of this decision. Issues surrounding the legality of abortion often give rise to issues regarding whether or not women should be able to choose what happens to their bodies. The final decision on abortion in America will be made by the Supreme Court, an institution largely run by men. Are men really equipped to make decisions about what a woman can and cannot do with her body?
Although it would not be productive to force gender equality on the Court-- for instance, mandating by law that half the court must be female and half must be male-- it is necessary to take efforts that encourage women to work toward higher levels of government and the law. The United States’ current Congress is 85% male and 65% of the Federal Judiciary are male. These numbers are problematic because, obviously, 85% of the United States’ population is not male, so the current Congress does not adequately represent its constituents. Organizations like Emerge America and Emily’s List are important because they train women at all levels of government and help financially support their campaigns for office.
Although to some people it may seem trivial that organizations need to exist to encourage women to run for office, it is important to remember how difficult it is for women to even get into politics (because of how male dominated the field is) and how extremely essential it is that our representations, at all levels of government, reflect that actual people that they are representing. If we want to see gender equality on the Supreme Court, we need to keep supporting efforts to make it possible.