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Missouri courts short on diversity as Brown Jackson set to make Supreme Court history

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Senate was poised Thursday to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman on the nation's highest court.

"It's fantastic, it's long overdue. I think people are excited, you know I talk to people you see the excitement in their eyes. People want this", said Missouri State Representative David Tyson Smith.

While the Supreme Court is making history, Missouri has some work to do to make its court system more reflective of the population. A 2019 state report showed that 29% of the state's judiciary are women and 9% are ethnic minorities.

The 13th Judicial Circuit, which covers Boone and Callaway counties, and the 19th Judicial Circuit, which covers Cole County, have no Black judges.

"It's been too long to not have more diversity on the bench, so hopefully we'll see some progress", said Smith.

Boone County's population is about 10% Black population; Cole County's is 12.2% Black; Callaway County is about 5%, Black.

Diversity remains a problem on the federal bench, as well. A Pew Research report shows that out of the 3,843 people who ever served as federal judges in the United States, 2% have been Black women. The first black woman to ever serve on the federal bench was Constance Baker Motley. Motley was the district chief judge from 1982 to 1986.

"I think one of the problems is people tend to think if they don't see it they can't do it. But once you find there's a little crack in the wall. One person gets there and the other person says I can do it too. I think it's just a matter of people having the courage to step forward", said Smith.  

A confirmation vote for Brown Jackson is expected to take place Thursday afternoon.

According to CNN, 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus are for the nomination, along with three Republicans -- Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- also support the nomination.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

Kennedy Miller

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