The Partisan Dynamics of Supreme Court Confirmation Voting
affiliation not provided to SSRN
Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University - College of Arts and Sciences
August 9, 2010
Partisan strategies for electoral and policy success span all three branches of government, nowhere more clearly than in Supreme Court appointments. We seek to better understand the dynamics of these inter-branch struggles, especially in light of increasing partisan polarization. To that end, we offer empirical analysis of the role of parties in seven decades of Senate confirmation voting. Our findings include evidence of a direct link between senators’ votes and the strength of their party in the state’s electorate. We further uncover important changes since the watershed Bork nomination: presidential strength and nominee qualifications have receded in importance while partisan and ideological considerations have become paramount, and nominee ideology no longer matters for same-party senators, while opposite-party senators act more cohesively against the president’s nominees. Finally, we explore intriguing differences in the factors affecting the confirmation votes of Democratic and Republican senators. These original findings on the linkage of partisanship and the confirmation vote contribute to a much-needed dialogue between the judicial appointments and congressional behavior literatures.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: Supreme Court, appointments, Senate confirmation, political parties, Congress
JEL Classification: Z00working papers series
Date posted: August 14, 2010
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