Judicial elections do not always promote diversity in a Supreme Court. Minority candidates face unique barriers under the elections model.
First of all, the issue of campaign finance is an obstacle for minority judicial candidates. High costs of campaigns pose a threat to minority candidates since majority candidates are more advantaged in raising money for their campaigns. Law professor Spencer Overton confirms that “Money comes from a narrow segment of the population and as a result campaign finance impacts the diversity of the bench.” A successful campaign heavily relies on private individual contributions. A study found that although people of color are almost 30% of the U.S. population, they make up less than 1% of the contributions to judicial campaigns.
Secondly, even when minority candidates can raise sufficient campaign funds, the issue of low public participation in judicial elections remains an obstacle. For example, in the USA, minority participation rates lag far behind whites. 62% of whites vote in judicial elections, whereas only 48% of African Americans go to the polls. As a result, minority candidates suffer in low turnout elections.
Additionally, minority candidates (namely women and people of color) struggle to overcome negative stereotypes when running for elections. There is a false assumption that these candidates are unable to make fair decisions in matters that involve their particular minority group's interests. Hence, they become less likely to be elected.
As a piece of evidence to this counter-argument, a 2011 study conducted by Steven Zeidman from the CUNY School of Law found that in the United States, elections did not increase diversity the outcome.
In short, minority communities are less able to financially support their candidates and more likely to suffer from low voter turnouts when compared to majority communities.