President Obama and the Supremes: Obama's Legacy – The Rise of Women's Voices on the Court

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65 Drake Law Review 911 (2017)

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Taunya Lovell Banks
Supreme Court; Women Justices; Female Justices; sotomayor; Kagan; Ginsburg; O'Connor; Interruption; Empirical Analysis; Voting Patterns; Oral Argument
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paper description
For approximately two hundred years, all of the United States Supreme Court justices were male. Now there are three women on the Court, two appointed during the administration of President Barack Obama. With the appointment of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan to the Court, women’s voices literally are more prominent, especially during oral argument. This article speculates on whether the presence of these three women on the Court will influence the substance of decisions. It asks whether we are witnessing the emergence of a definable “women’s” voice, in the collective sense, or whether there is simply a greater representation of women on the Court; women justices, who like their male counterparts, sometimes agree and sometimes do not. In addition, this article asks whether the reaction of some commentators, and male justices, to the increased participation of women justices during oral argument suggests implicit gender bias, another possible by-product of President Obama’s legacy.