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Oregon High Court to Have Female Majority

By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 12, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Oregon will soon have a majority of women on its highest court.

Gov. Kate Brown has elevated Judge Rebecca Duncan to fill a vacancy that will be created when Justice David Brewer retires in June. Duncan's appointment marks the first time in the court's history that women will comprise a majority.

"No one is better suited than Becky Duncan to this historic appointment," Gov. Brown said in a statement. "Throughout her career, Becky Duncan has been a model of intellectual rigor and professionalism."

Women Majorities

Oregon joins a growing number of states with women in the majorities of their highest courts. The states with women majorities include California, Washington, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Most of these states voted Democratic in recent presidential elections, suggesting that the rise in female majorities stems from their progressive leanings. The trend also suggests that women are gaining ground in judgeships.

However, women are still largely under-represented in most states. According to studies, less than one-third of state judges are women even though half the population is female.

Oregon Supreme Court

With Duncan's appointment, the governor has appointed three women to the Oregon Supreme Court. The court will now have four women on the seven-member panel.

Duncan, who graduated from the University of Michigan Law School, worked as a public defender before she was appointed to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Brown said that she showed "fairness and sensitivity to the needs of vulnerable litigants."

"Her experience representing the accused first as a trial lawyer and then as an appellate advocate will be of great value to the high court," the governor said.

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