‘Wow, super diverse!’ Supreme Court pic draws criticism online

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By Thomas Connelly on


Top judges welcome new legal year

Supreme Court Justice – credit: Criminal Bar Association

The Supreme Court has come under fire for its lack of diversity after an image of the top bench welcoming the new legal year was shared online.

The image, posted to the Criminal Bar Association’s X account, shows all eleven robed-up justices posing outside the Supreme Court building in Westminster, London. The group processed from the court to Westminster Abbey yesterday to mark the opening of the new legal year.

But the image of 10 men and one woman, all of whom are white, drew criticism from some online.

“Wow, super diverse!!!!” one person responded, while another wrote: “Only 1 woman?”

“Good grief!” a further X user commented. “You really need to work on improving diversity.” Another quipped: “The diversity in the choice of neck-ties is most impressive.”

The top court has long-grappled with the issue of diversity across its ranks.

SC president Lord Reed has previously spoken out about the lack of diversity on the UK’s top bench, warning the issue risked becoming “shameful if it persists”. Reed, who succeeded the court’s first female president, Lady Hale, went onto say that he hoped to see a justice of black, asian or minority ethnic background, before he takes mandatory retirement in several years time.

Responding to the criticism, a Supreme Court spokesperson told Legal Cheek:

“We know that certain people, including women, black, asian and other ethnic minority groups, and disabled lawyers continue to be underrepresented in the judiciary and in more senior levels of the legal profession. We are building strong links and working with representative organisations to help us to understand and learn from the experience of underrepresented groups and to enable us to take action that will lead to meaningful change and progress.”

The continued: “Progress is being made but more needs to be done to increase the pace of change. The Court will continue to play its part in removing barriers that prevent equal access to opportunity.”

In more positive diversity news, Legal Cheek reported yesterday that Dame Sue Carr had made history when she became the first woman ever to head up the judiciary of England and Wales. She will be known as Lady Chief Justice.



There have been three times as many SC Justices called David than there have been women.


Thats no surprise. To be a Supreme Court judge means you have to have been extremely successful and dedicated at every stage of your career. I am a relatively successful (male) barrister who had never, until recently, attended sports days, parents evenings, birthday parties, or any of the other things my children have done over the years. I regret it, and don’t blame anyone (man or woman) who sacrifices a bit of career success for a family life. That does mean the SC is an unlikely destination, but I could live with that; and do could the vast majority of women.

yes quite

What you’re saying is that men are expected to diminish our family and social lives for career success, and women are expected to diminish their professional success to focus on family. This is absolutely correct, and it’s what feminists have been rightfully complaining about for decades.

In the absence of the necessary contextual social change for women to succeed on current criteria, maybe the judiciary shouldn’t be focusing only on barristers whose children have never met them.


No one is ‘expected’ to do anything. No one forced me to make the choices I did, and no one forces anyone else. But it is silly to suggest that you will get to the top in anything without a great deal of dedication, and importantly, you have to come first. So long as there are people with ability who are willing to sacrifice everything they will win, as they will be the best candidate, which I assume we all agree has to be the criterion for appointment.

Just Anonymous

Nice straw man. That isn’t what Alex is saying at all.

Women are free “to diminish [their] family and social lives for career success” just as men are. Alex’s point – with which I completely agree – is that men are generally far more willing than women to make that choice.


I replied similarly but got moderated out.

No one forced me to make any decision, but to excel you have to be better than everyone else – and some of those people will be single minded in their pursuit of workplace success.


Anyone who’s lived in society simply knows that’s nonsense – it’s then just a question of whether you want to tell yourself the myth to make you feel nicer about the world.

It’s nothing to do with “forcing” anyone to do anything. If people are raised their entire lives with social expectations to act and behave in a particular way, then the trend is going to be towards people acting in that way.

If most men are unwilling to be stay at home parents or even take on 50% of the housework, then mothers can’t work 15 hour days even if they wanted to. If the expectation is that to be a powerful judge you have to work 15 hour days, then you’ve simply used soft social norms to create a situation where the Supreme Court is always going to be mostly male without forcing anyone to do anything.

It’s very unlikely you’re incapable of understanding this, rather you perhaps want to live in your imaginary world where everything is lovely and people have equal opportunities from birth.

Yes, hello, I am real man

If by willing you mean men have societal expectations thrust on them of being breadwinners whose only value or contribution to society is measured in their ability to either generate cash or die on a battlefield, and as a result it becomes an existential drive for men to sacrifice literally everything else in their lives for their careers, then sure, it’s willingly.

If you’re remotely self aware however, you’ll realise that there are just as many women who’s rather press on with their career as there are men who’d rather spend more time with their kids, but on a systematic level these preferences are disincentivised due to a whole raft of inequality reasons and that’s why we have a pale, male and stale SC.

Uncharitable fellow

What are the original commenters expecting, exactly? It’s the Supreme Court, not a Deliveroo advert. There’s an extremely limited pool of candidates that need to have been outstanding practitioners for 25+ years – they can’t just call up Rare Recruitment and ask them to send over some diverse candidates.


hear hear


Merit 11 – 0 Wokism

Angry guy

Hi, your little lashing out here implies either that this is an extreme coincidence, or that women hold less merit than men. Can you not.


Of course, when men get the role it’s always merit. Whenever you see a woman or a minority or a person from the LGBT community, it’s never related to merit. /s

Annoyed student

UK is 82% white, Supreme Court justices are obviously quite old and grey-haired as they have been in the legal profession for many, many years. Just as far back in 2001, UK was 90% white.
When they started practising law, the UK was likely 95+% white, and I can’t imagine there would have been many ethnic minority barristers, and consequently there aren’t many old minority barristers now.

This is such weird outrage. When they retire, and a younger generation takes their positions, I’m quite sure there will be some minority judges. But what do you expect when there’s no-one on the court under 60 and the bar, during their time (and still now, to an extent), was both (a) extremely competitive and (b) favoured the (obviously wealthy) Oxford-Etonites of the world? Focus on getting people *into* the barrister profession in the first place, and the rest should come naturally.


Why is the UK currently obsessed with dividing people on race, gender and sexual orientation?

Why not obsess on height, IQ, personality type, hair colour, family background or a million other ways people are different?

Why not simply drop the crass categorisation full stop?

Because this is all about politics.


That is exactly, precisely, word for word what someone part of a ruling/upper class would say.


Um – “all eleven robed-up justices … 11 men and one woman, all of whom are white”. Ten and one, surely, until Lord Kitchen is replaced?

An argument based on each person’s exceptional ability or merit implies that there is no woman or no person with a non-white ethnicity in the country who might be as good or better than any of the 10 white men currently on the panel. I just don’t think that is true, and there must be a good chance than the next person appointed to the Supreme Court will be a woman, or non-white.

It was unfortunate that a man was selected to replace both Baroness Hale and then Lady Arden, but we are still in a world of “firsts” – the first female Chief Justice, the first female President of the KBD, still just one female President of the Family Division (who retired in 2005), and not yet a female Master of the the Rolls or (Vice)Chancellor of the Chancery Division.

But I am optimistic for the future. You only have to look at the next rungs in the ladder to see that gender diversity is working its way through, albeit very slowly and still far from equality – both the Chief Justice and the President of the KBD are women, about a quarter of the judges on the Court of Appeal and about a third on the High Court.

Diversity and equal representation of race is further back. In 2021, England and Wales was about 82% white, 9% Asian, 4% black, and 5% mixed or other. In 1981 it was about 95% white, 3% Asian, less than 2% black. Rabinder Singh was the first BAME person on the Court of Appeal, and that was in 2017.

The alternative is to carry on allowing our laws to be interpreted and applied by (with all due respect to our esteemed judges) a narrow clique of aging white men, largely educated at private schools and Oxbridge, alongside an assumption that diversity of viewpoints is not necessary to reach good decisions.

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