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Will a Diverse Judiciary Lead to Changes in Judging?

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Judicial diversity is an issue of considerable interest in contemporary debate and its importance has recently been reinforced by reform initiatives and an on-going investigation by the House of Lords Constitution Committee. The current lack of diversity is demonstrated by the fact that only one of the twelve justices of the Supreme Court is a woman, and none are from ethnic minorities. Furthermore, less than two per cent of High Court judges come from ethnic minorities, and women make up less than ten per cent of the Court of Appeal.

A key attribute of the judiciary is the adherence to the fundamental principles of neutrality and independence, which is seen as 'a prerequisite in any civilised society' . This is reinforced in the judicial oath, which requires judges to do justice 'to all manner of people', without 'fear or favour, affection or ill-will'. Therefore, whatever the background of a judge, it is important that they approach the task of judging by applying the law as strictly as possible, without letting their own views pre-determine the outcome of the case, as this legitimises their decisions.

It could be suggested that some arguments for judicial diversity would inevitably lead to changes in the approach taken by judges to the task of judging, as these arguments appear to conflict with the existing principles of judicial neutrality and independence. Therefore, judges would have to change their approach to judging, by being influenced more by their own viewpoints. An example of this is the argument that the "interplay of perspectives of judges from diverse backgrounds and experiences make for better judicial decision making."



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