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‘Overlooked’: Black women are nearly absent from the federal bench

Monica C. Bell '03
Monica C. Bell '03

A commentary by Catherine Smith and Trina Jones in The National Law Journal draws upon remarks by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and passages from a book titled “Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court.” The authors of the book and Harris agree that the “underrepresentation of Black women in the federal judiciary is not due to a lack of talent but, rather, due to a lack of imagination and political will among those in power.”

The Biden administration will likely have the opportunity to appoint the first Black woman to the highest court in the land. The authors of the commentary offer a list of “impeccably credentialed and widely published Black women law professors.” Among them is Monica C. Bell, a first generation Furman University graduate (class of 2003) and Truman Scholar. She is an associate professor of law and an associate professor of sociology at Yale University, where her areas of expertise include criminal justice, welfare law, housing, race and the law, qualitative research methods, and law and sociology.

Some of her recent work has been published in The Yale Law Journal, Law & Society Review, Social Service Review, and the Annual Review of Law & Social Science. She has also published work in outlets such as the Los Angeles Review of Books and The Washington Post.

Bell holds degrees in political science and sociology from Furman University and degrees from University College Dublin (Mitchell Scholar), Yale Law School and Harvard University.

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