Following the May 10, 2016 election of Beth Walker to West Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals, West Virginia’s highest court is now majority female.
In 2015, the state’s legislature adopted a non-partisan election system for its judicial candidates. Ms. Walker ran under that system against sitting justice Republican Brent D. Benjamin and three other male candidates.
While the ballots may have been non-partisan, a West Virginia Public Broadcasting article estimated the “the Republican State Leadership Committee – Judicial Fairness Initiative and other groups dropped about $2 million on the campaign.”
A 2016 report by the National Women’s Law Center found that only “thirty-three percent of active United States district (or trial) court judges are women” and that 35% of the 170 judges on courts of appeal are female.
West Virginia is a part of the 4th Circuit, where five of the fifteen justices are women.