Tuesday, September 20, 2005

'The Politics of Judicial Appointments'

There's an interesting new book out on Supreme Court nominations that I hope KJ hasn't mentioned yet. It covers the process from nomination to a transforming ideology:
"During the first four years of justices' tenure, their voting behavior correlates at a rather high level with their appointing president's ideology, but for justices with ten or more years of service, that relationship drops precipitously," suggests Lee Epstein, co-author of "Advice and Consent: The Politics of Judicial Appointments" (September 2005, Oxford University Press).

I've heard it suggested that Republican presidents tend to nominate moderate candidates while Democrats nominate liberal judges. Epstein acknowledges that "liberal presidents appoint liberal justices who continue to take liberal positions for a while." But she adds, "Ditto for conservatives."

Let's look at the tally:
Appointee Place of Birth Nominated by
John Paul Stevens, Chicago Ford 12/75
Sandra Day O'Connor, El Paso Reagan 9/81
Antonin Scalia, Trenton Reagan 9/86
Anthony M. Kennedy, Sacramento Reagan 2/88
David Hackett Souter, Melrose, Mass. Bush 10/90
Clarence Thomas, Savannah Bush 10/91
Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Brooklyn Clinton 8/93
Stephen G. Breyer, San Francisco Clinton 8/94

I think it's very hard for anyone outside of Scalia to be considered a core conservative. Personally, I think we need an Alaskan on the court, and maybe another Southerner. Nonetheless, the book sounds interesting.
In their book, Epstein and Segal trace the politics of the judicial nomination process through more than 200 years of American history, providing an anecdote-rich analysis of key issues behind the institution's origin and evolution. They suggest, for instance, that the Senate's rejection of one of George Washington's Supreme Court nominees in 1795 provides a clear signal that the founding fathers intended the Senate confirmation process to be more than a rubber stamp.

Further, Epstein and Segal also say that Bush's call for a "dignified" confirmation of Roberts is "wishful thinking." Their reason is that it's not the point. No doubt the Democrats on the committee agree.


At 11:42 AM, Blogger KJ said...

Not being a rubber stamp still means giving the President a vote.

And I disagree that Scalia is the only core conservative. Thomas is as well, and at least in the last few years, I have agreed with Thomas more than Scalia when they disagree.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger tee bee said...

How could I leave out Thomas? Maybe my hidden psyche was trying to be provocative, since I only have so much to bring to the topic. Mostly lawyer jokes.

I suppose after the spring session, none of them look terribly conservative. I mean, O'Connor sounded the most sensible after Kelo. Maybe I should look up Thomas on Raich.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger KJ said...

Yeah, well I've met Thomas. To helk with the ones that haven't met me.


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