Sunday, April 5, 2015

Does Gender Impact Judicial Decision Making?

By Lindsay N. Zanello
Lindsay Zanello is a third year law student at Albany Law School. She graduated from Boston College in 2005, double majoring in Sociology and Human Development. In 2009, Lindsay received her Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. She was previously a paralegal with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
Lindsay currently serves as Executive Managing Editor of the Albany Law Review and is a law clerk at O’Connell & Aronowitz.
Following graduation, Lindsay will serve as a law clerk on the New York Court of Appeals Central Legal Research Staff.
This paper, discussing the impact of gender on judicial decision making, was prepared for the Judicial Process Seminar in the fall of 2014.

What role does gender play in judicial decision making?

Some scholars and judges have said that it affects overall judicial decision making, even proclaiming a "woman’s voice.” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, however, has frowned upon this kind of analysis, noting that “questions about whether female judges reasoned in a ‘different’ voice [are] ‘dangerous and unanswerable.’”

Who is correct? Is it the feminine perspective that causes judges to vote certain ways or does gender not play a role at all? Perhaps it is the combined totality of one’s experiences. What about the impact of female judges on the bench as a whole?  Does having female judges on the bench affect their male counterpart’s decisions? This paper explores these very issues.
To read the paper, open HERE.