Federal appellate judge Deanell Tacha addressed the need for more diversity in our court system Thursday night at the Dole Institute of Politics.
“The two most important things are analytical ability and getting that mix of viewpoints together on a bench,” Tacha said about an effective federal judiciary.
The event honored Constitution Day. It was sponsored by the League of Women Voters-Lawrence/Douglas County and the Kansas University School of Law.
Tacha said that the judiciary must incorporate people with more diverse backgrounds, including gender, ethnicity and education level, to maintain confidence and trust from the public. She said this lack of diversity in her formative years initially made her wary about becoming a judge.
“For whatever reasons, probably internal stereotypes … I just couldn’t see myself in that role,” she said. “Plus, wearing black robes was not my style.”
While drawing occasional laughs from the audience, Tacha said to ensure more diversity in the judiciary, there must be more value on public service.
“This whole democracy, or republic, in which we live,” Tacha said, “depends on the notion that we are all educated well enough to govern ourselves.”
Tacha added that she will not forget her roots in Lawrence, saying she will never quit being a Jayhawk.
Thursday’s event was the second in a series of three events at the Dole Institute.