Changes in the US Supreme Court reduce interruptions to women – 10/17/2021 – World

Changes in the format of the US Supreme Court’s oral arguments have reduced interruptions to women, according to court judge Sonia Sotomayor. The initiative came after studies showed that female magistrates were more likely to be interrupted by male lawyers and judges.

Sotomayor spoke about the change in an event on diversity and inclusion promoted by New York University last Wednesday (13). The new structure provides for each magistrate to ask questions individually, after the support of a lawyer, following the criterion of seniority in the court.

Currently, women occupy three of the nine seats at court. The first Latino and first non-white woman in the history of the highest court in the US judiciary, Sotomayor, 67, was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2009 and is a member of the court’s progressive wing.

According to researcher Tonja Jacobi, from Northwestern University, in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Sotomayor was the judge of the court who was most interrupted in 2019.

The magistrate herself cited a survey carried out by Jacobi and Dylan Schweers​, in 2017, according to which women were interrupted in the phase of oral support significantly more than men.

Out there

For Sotomayor, the changes in the court already have a “huge impact”. She also highlighted that the tendency for women to be interrupted is also perceived in other sectors of society.​

In Brazil, the imbalance in gender relations in the Federal Supreme Court (STF) has also been the subject of debate. In April 2018, in a court session in which a habeas corpus to avoid arrest of former president Lula (PT) was denied, Minister Rosa Weber was interrupted a number of times during her vote. Carmen Lúcia, then president of the STF, came out in defense of her colleague.

More recently, at Covid’s CPI, the issue was raised again. In the first month of the commission, senators were interrupted and labeled aggressive by colleagues​. Simone Tebet (MDB-MT), who heads the women’s bench at the House, had her speech crossed at least 11 times by men.

A survey carried out by Folha showed that the absence of women in the 36 vacancies of Covid’s CPI incumbent and alternate reflects historical resistance to opening space for them in the commissions of inquiry.

Women have participated as incumbents in only 32% of the CPIs installed in the Senate since 1946, after the end of Getúlio Vargas’ Estado Novo, a period in which these commissions began to function effectively. There have been 68 CPIs installed since then, with the participation of senators in just 22 of them.

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