Well, a recent study confirms what many of us expected. Joanna Shepherd, law professor at Emory University, conducted a study of employment discrimination lawsuits.The study looked at whether backgrounds of individual federal judges had an impact on the outcome of a discrimination lawsuit. The study asks whether the professional background of some judges makes them more likely to rule against workers. The study found the answer to be yes.
The study found that judges appointed by Presidents Obama with corporate backgrounds are 36% less likely to rule on behalf of employees. Obama judges who have a background as prosecutors are 56% less likely to decide in favor of employees in those cases compared with non-prosecutors.
The study looked at federal court decisions in 2016 to 2019. It focused on judges appointed by Pres. Obama and Pres. Trump. Nearly 25% of Trump’s picks came from the 200 largest law firms in the country. About 45% of Obama’s choices had previously served as prosecutors at the state or federal level. The study found similar results whether the judge was appointed by a Republican or Democratic President.
The study looked at the rulings in regard to motions for summary judgment, motions for judgments on the pleadings and motions for judgments as a matter f law. It did not look behind the decisions. It did not attempt to assess whether the judge made the “right” decision in a given case. It simply noted that judges of a coporare or prosecutorial background were more likely to grant anti-employee motions.