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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > November 2016 > A supreme injustice

A supreme injustice

Women lawyers have long been abundant. Which makes our lack of female judges a scandal

Do you remember “the Supremes”? Not the great Motown girl band of the 1960s, but that classic episode of The West Wing from March 2004. It concerns a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court and the machinations that President Josiah Bartlet has to go through in order to nominate a progressive woman.

If a Bake Off-deprived BBC commissioned a new “Great British” political drama, the equivalent episode would be no less poignant. The Prime Minister meets with her new Justice Secretary—both of them women. Yes both women, and not only because the Westminster Wing would be set in a liberal fantasyland, but because that’s where reallife politics has progressed to in the age of Theresa May and Elizabeth Truss. But the anxious discussion of their screenplay equivalents concerns why the judiciary in general and Supreme Court in particular has failed to keep up. Each laments the fact that after well over a decade in our highest court—and due to retire in a few short years—Baroness Hale of Richmond remains the first and only woman. I don’t want to spoil the suspense for you, but in short they resolve that something must be done.

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In Prospect’s November issue: Sam Tanenhaus argues Donald Trump is a consequence of the American government ignoring the people—and they’ll have to deal with his impact whether he wins or loses the presidential election. Diane Roberts explores the rage eating America by looking at the people that government has failed. Switching the focus to the UK, David Marquand and a quartet of commentators assess Labour’s position—with varying conclusions. Also in this issue: Matthew Qvortrup looks at the relationship between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, two of Europe’s most important politicians whose lives have long been intertwined. Andy Burnham, Labour’s candidate for the mayor of Manchester, lays down the reasons why the northern powerhouse is so important and Prospect’s Arts and Books Editor Sameer Rahim reviews Zadie Smith’s latest novel.