Despite having had segregation in living memory, the US scores better on judicial appointments.
The legal profession is not short of initiatives to improve the ethnic diversity of the judiciary.
The lord chief justice believes it needs to happen. The Judicial Appointments Commission has spent long hours devising processes intended to increase the diversity of the bench. The Law Society and Bar Council offer valuable training, support and mentoring.
All this is done in the face of accusations that they are engaging in political correctness gone mad (or variations on that charge). And yet, change is occurring at a distinctly modest pace. As the latest Gazette roundtable heard, despite having had segregation in living memory, the US Supreme Court has Justice Clarence Thomas at the apex and plenty of appointments further down the judicial ladder.
By contrast, the UK is pinning hopes on progress at the county court level. One attendee described this approach as hoping three or four lawyers will overcome every adversity to make it to the top.
Of course, close scrutiny of US legal, political and economic life would reveal that racism and unequal outcomes are all too real elsewhere, not least when it comes to the nation’s record on incarceration. Black Americans are five times more likely to be jailed than whites.
But on public service appointments the US is profoundly comfortable with a policy of ‘interruption’. The question is being asked, is our own stated preference for ‘evolution’ in fact code for treading water?