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Nevada joins states with female majority on high court

January 11, 2019 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The swearings-in of two women as Nevada’s two newest Supreme Court justices made the state one of 10 in the nation with a female majority on its highest court, according to data kept by a national association.

Ceremonies on Thursday marked the addition of Abbi Silver and Elissa Cadish to the court with Chief Justice Mark Gibbons and justices Kristina Pickering, Lidia Stiglich, James Hardesty and Ron Parraguirre.

Nevada reached the mark just 25 years after Miriam Shearing became the state’s first Supreme Court justice.


Shearing told The Associated Press on Thursday that she persevered for more than 15 years before she was sworn in to the state Supreme Court in 1993.

“I was told when I first applied to be a judge in 1976 that women shouldn’t be judges,” said Shearing, who still sometimes substitutes for judges in rural parts of the state. “Now it’s generally recognized that women are just as good as men. Or better.”

Shearing was elected in 1992 to a five-member state high court. She was joined in 1999 by Deborah Agosti and Nancy Becker, making three women on a seven-member bench.

They retired by the time Nancy Saitta served from 2007 to 2016.

Justice Michael Douglas, who recently retired, became the first African-American on the Nevada Supreme Court when he was appointed in 2004.

A lot of progress has been made, Becker said in an interview in which she called it important to have people considered for “competency, not for other attributes such as gender.”

“Women are no longer looked upon as unfit or unworthy,” Becker said. “Miriam and Deborah and I all faced that.”

Becker added that diversity on the court leads to exchanges between colleagues who may not have the same experiences and backgrounds.

Others states with female majorities on the highest court are Arkansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

The National Center for State Courts said California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Texas, West Virginia and the District of Columbia have had female majorities on courts of last resort in the past.

Wisconsin has had more women than men on its Supreme Court since 2007, center analyst Blake Points Kavanagh said.