Chief justice of 4th Court of Appeals with all-female justices applauds diversity in judicial system

All-female justice court first in the nation

SAN ANTONIO – Late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was once quoted saying that there will be enough women on the high court when all nine justices are women.

In South Texas, the 4th Court of Appeals became the first appellate court in the country made up solely of women in 2005.

Justice Sandee Bryan Marion is the chief justice.

“I think that diversity is a great thing,” Justice Marion said Friday. “But having an all-female court, we really don’t see things differently in the law. The law is what it is.”

Perhaps the only difference between a court composed of both women and men is during informal conferences, Marion said.

“Occasionally, in the conferences, we’re talking about things that probably men won’t talk about,” she said with a smile. “Buying shoes or talking about our families, that sort of thing.”

But when it comes to legal options, she said, “The law is the law, and we follow it just as I think a male court would do.”

As she prepares for retirement after 18 years on the court, Chief Justice Marion said she is always amused to see the surprised look on people’s faces as they walk into the courtroom and see all women on the bench.

Noting the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Marion said, “Justice Ginsburg has had a tremendous influence on all women, all women judges, all women lawyers and even little girls. She has set an example and opened a lot of doors for us all.”

About the Author:

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.