Women in Senior Government Ranks, and Not

Notice the women.   In three of the U.S. court cases that were filed challenging the legality of President Trump’s January 27th Executive Order seeking to deny entry to the United States to nationals of seven specified countries, the Federal Judges are women:  Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria); Judge Allison D. Burroughs of the District of Massachusetts (Boston); and Judge Ann M. Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

Each Judge was assigned to her respective case by her Court’s random assignment system.  But each is there on the federal bench because recent Presidents, advised by U.S. Senators in the particular state, have made it a point, and at times a high priority, to appoint more women.  President Clinton appointed Judge Brinkema, who previously served as a federal prosecutor and then a federal Magistrate Judge, in 1993.  President Obama appointed Judge Burroughs, also a former federal prosecutor and then a lawyer in private practice, in 2014.  And he also appointed Judge Donnelly, a long-time New York City prosecutor and then a New York State judge, in 2015.  Women are still underrepresented on the federal bench, from the Supreme Court through the courts of appeals and the district courts, but the U.S. has made some progress in this area towards fairness, representation, and equal opportunity.

For National Women’s Law Center data from October 2016 on women on the federal bench, click here.

In related news, the New York Times reports today that the U.S. Department of State is losing, to retirements, two of its highest-ranking women:  Anne W. Patterson, until earlier this month the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and before that U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, to Colombia, at the United Nations, and to Egypt; and Victoria J. Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European & Eurasian Affairs until earlier this month.

For a March 2016 Foreign Service Journal report on women in the U.S. Foreign Service, click here.

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