Shruti Rana


Women’s advancement in the judiciary of the United States has been slow and uneven, and has long lagged behind other nations. Parity in representation remains distant, and the gains to date vulnerable to changes in administrations and fluctuating levels of state commitment to gender equality, with the recent global backlash to gender equality and international norms and institutions providing a critical example of this fragility. In this light, this Article argues that gender parity in the judiciary should not be viewed as merely a laudable goal. Rather, representation and parity should be viewed as fundamental state legal obligations under international law as well as critical mechanisms for achieving gender equality. This Article further situates the debates over gender equality and parity in the judiciary of the United States within the broader context of the global backlash to gender equality and global norms and institutions, shedding additional light on the ways that this backlash is playing out on American shores. In doing so, it re-conceives the attacks on gender equality in the judiciary in the United States and globally as both a reaction to and indicator of the foundational significance and strength of the legal obligations to achieve gender parity in national and international judiciaries. It also explores the role and impact of women judges in strengthening global law and institutions, and the roles they can play achieving transformative change by analyzing the impact of the decisions and decisionmakers in a unique quasi-judicial forum involving the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Ultimately, in re-framing debates over representation and parity and grounding them in legal obligations, this Article aims to contribute to the literature and strategies for achieving meaningful representation in the judiciary and gender equality in the United States and globally.


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