Monday, October 23, 2023

Christina L. Boyd, Paul M. Collins, Jr., and Lori A. Ringhand's "Supreme Bias"

Christina L. Boyd is Professor of Political Science and Thomas P. & M. Jean Lauth Public Affairs Professor at the University of Georgia. Paul M. Collins, Jr. is Professor of Legal Studies and Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Lori A. Ringhand is J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law and Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Supreme Bias: Gender and Race in U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, and reported the following:
Page 99 of our book does two things. First, it summarizes why we believe that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will question the ability of women and people of color to be impartial in cases involving issues senators believe the nominees have some sort of special expertise with. For female Supreme Court nominees, this is abortion rights and gender discrimination. For nominees of color, this is racial discrimination and crime. Second, it introduces the idea that this form of bias is likely to be lessened if the questioning senator and the nominee share the same political party affiliation. “In other words, shared party provides a set of common expectations for the senator and nominee that may help avoid the strong activation of out-group biases. By contrast, when the nominee hails from the opposite party as the senator, stereotypes are likely to be magnified.”

Page 99 provides an excellent representation of our book. Supreme Bias is motivated by the desire to figure out if female nominees and nominees of color to the U.S. Supreme Court face a different path to the Court than more traditional white male nominees. To investigate this, we focus our attention on the most visible part of the Supreme Court confirmation process: the hearings held by the Senate Judiciary Committee. These hearings are followed by millions of Americans and provide important insight into how senators treat potential members of our nation’s highest Court.

We provide evidence that members of the Judiciary Committee – who are overwhelmingly white men – demonstrate subtle forms of gender and racial bias as they question women and people of color. For instance, compared to white male nominees, women and people of color have their competence questioned more, are more frequently interrupted, are described in less positive terms, and – as page 99 suggests – are asked more questions in areas they are stereotyped to have special experience with.

In addition to revealing the extent of these forms of gender and racial bias, Supreme Bias devotes special attention to discussing the implications of our findings and suggests ways that these forms of bias might be remedied in future confirmation hearings.
Learn more about Supreme Bias at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue