Cover of Supreme Bias by Christina L. Boyd, Paul M. Collins, Jr., and Lori A. Ringhand
Supreme Bias
Gender and Race in U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings
Christina L. Boyd, Paul M. Collins, Jr., and Lori A. Ringhand


October 2023
290 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503632691
Paperback ISBN: 9781503636880
Ebook ISBN: 9781503636897

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Winner of the 2024 C. Herman Pritchett Award, sponsored by the American Political Science Association (APSA) - Law and Courts Section.

In Supreme Bias, Christina L. Boyd, Paul M. Collins, Jr., and Lori A. Ringhand present for the first time a comprehensive analysis of the dynamics of race and gender at the Supreme Court confirmation hearings held before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Drawing on their deep knowledge of the confirmation hearings, as well as rich new qualitative and quantitative evidence, the authors highlight how the women and people of color who have sat before the Committee have faced a significantly different confirmation process than their white male colleagues. Despite being among the most qualified and well-credentialed lawyers of their respective generations, female nominees and nominees of color face more skepticism of their professional competence, are subjected to stereotype-based questioning, are more frequently interrupted, and are described in less-positive terms by senators. In addition to revealing the disturbing extent to which race and gender bias exist even at the highest echelon of U.S. legal power, this book also provides concrete suggestions for how that bias can be reduced in the future.

About the authors

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.

"Supreme Bias is an important book. The research is vital, timely, and innovative as it is the first book to comprehensively focus on gender and racial biases during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. Collins, Ringhand, and Boyd present novel qualitative and quantitative data and find that female nominees and nominees of color face very different confirmation hearings than white male nominees. The work is theoretically rich, and the scope and depth of the book is remarkable. In short, Supreme Bias will transform how scholars study Supreme Court confirmation hearings."

—Jennifer Bowie, University of Richmond

"Supreme Bias deepens our understanding of the way the U.S. Senate exercises its advice and consent power. Boyd, Collins, and Ringhand leverage the most comprehensive and sophisticated dataset of U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings to systematically assess the dynamics of senator-nominee interactions, illuminating how senators' treatment of nominees is shaped by gender, race, and partisanship."

—Eve Ringsmuth, Oklahoma State University

"In this excellent and timely book, Boyd, Collins, and Ringhand provide compelling evidence that confirmation hearings play out in a context in which a nominee's race and gender are relevant to how hearings unfold. They also demonstrate that potential improvements, such as by increasing diversity on the Senate Judiciary Committee, are unlikely to eliminate in full the racial and gender bias often on display. This thorough analysis provides an important contribution to our understanding of the collision between efforts to diversify the Supreme Court and how nominees are treated in the most public part of the appointment process."

—Lisa M. Holmes, University of Vermont

"Supreme Bias describes how race, gender, and partisanship interact to produce a two-tiered confirmation process for individuals nominated to the Supreme Court. Drawing on theoretical literature on in-groups and out-groups, the authors mine an 'original data set' gleaned from Judiciary Committee hearings that took place between 1939 and 2022. The results are stark.... Essential reading for students of the Court."

—P. Watkins, CHOICE