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Appellate Practice

Few minorities and women argued Supreme Court cases this term

Posted May 14, 2013 8:27 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Debo Adegbile was the only African American lawyer to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term.

The Associated Press took a look at the diversity of the lawyers in oral arguments since October and concluded the Supreme Court is more diverse than the lawyers who appear before it. Only four Hispanics argued cases, while female lawyers accounted for about 17 percent of the oral arguments. Asians, on the other hand, were possibly overrepresented, with seven men making 17 arguments to the court.

Adegbile represented six black residents of Shelby County, Ala., who are supporting a key provision in the voting rights law. Until recently, he worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Lisa Blatt of Arnold & Porter was the only woman in private practice to make multiple arguments before the court this term, compared to 10 male lawyers in private practice with multiple arguments. Blatt argued three cases.

Blatt wrote in the Green Bag that most of the women arguing before the court have been public-interest or government lawyers. “Translation: women are doing the same work but for less pay,” she wrote.

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