Only Women on the Bench

Nov 28, 2012 | Blog, Lawyers of Note

When it comes to my professional life, I am first and foremost a lawyer.  Being a woman has always been tertiary (not even secondary) to my professional qualifications.  I would be appalled if I learned that any of my professional achievements or honors were impacted in any way by my gender.  In law school I even wrote an essay in The Diversity Hoax against affirmative action in all forms (I was Megan Elizabeth Murray back then).

However, despite being completely un-feminist, I can’t help but marvel that Oakland now boasts an entirely female Federal bench.   Chief District Judge Claudia Wilken, Senior District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong, District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu and Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore take up all the seats in the Oakland Federal courthouse.  Truly, no matter anyone’s political beliefs, how can one not notice this?

Read The Recorders’s article on this historic first.

Notably, five of the six women sitting on the bench in Oakland’s Federal courthouse are also non-white.

Now I won’t get into my thoughts on whether this is actually a good thing — after all, isn’t a bench of entirely one gender exactly what feminists are usually complaining about?  It just happens to be the other gender?  And isn’t a bench that holds just one member of a race is often something advocates of one race or another point to as a bad sign?  Will the next white male lawyer who appears in Oakland Federal court complain that he doesn’t see anyone like  him on the bench?

I will stick with noting simply that this is an amazing transformation of a profession that was once a white gentleman’s game.  Six strong, determined, smart women now hold some of the most powerful positions in the judiciary and together control an entire courthouse.  That is quite phenomenal.