S.J. Quinney College of Law Dean Bob Adler published an op-ed in the April 30, 2016 edition of The Salt Lake Tribune titled, “Utah judiciary’s lack of diversity will not correct itself.”
The current composition of Utah’s judiciary is disproportionately white and male. Utah’s population is nearly half female (49.7 percent as of April 2014), but only 29 out of 111 of our state judges (26 percent) are women. Utah is about 22 percent racially and ethnically diverse (including African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders), yet only nine of our judges (8 percent) are members of a racial minority.
Regarding the theory that this problem will be cured through increased diversity in the legal profession, in gender and ethnic balance current Utah Bar membership is nowhere close to being proportional to the state’s population. The Utah State Bar is currently only 23.4 percent female. In a 2011 survey of Utah Bar members, only 6 percent identified themselves as other than Caucasian. If we rely on the existing proportions of lawyers as the source of the state’s judges, with no separate consideration of diversity for similarly qualified candidates, we will only perpetuate the lack of diversity in the judiciary.