Public Opinion and Senate Confirmation of Supreme Court Nominees

39 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2008 Last revised: 6 Aug 2009

See all articles by Jonathan P. Kastellec

Jonathan P. Kastellec

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Jeffrey R. Lax

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Justin Phillips

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 30, 2008

Abstract

Does public opinion influence Supreme Court confirmation politics? We present the first direct evidence that state-level public opinion on whether a particular Supreme Court nominee should be confirmed affects the roll call votes of senators. Using national polls and applying recent advances in opinion estimation, we produce state-of-the-art estimates of public support for the confirmation of nine recent Supreme Court nominees in all 50 states. We find that greater home-state public support does significantly and strikingly increase the probability that a senator will vote to approve a nominee, even controlling for other predictors of roll call voting. These results establish a systematic and powerful link between constituency opinion and voting on Supreme Court nominees. We connect this finding to larger debates on the role of majoritarianism and representation.

Keywords: Supreme Court, responsiveness, nominations, public opinion, multilevel models, poststratification

Suggested Citation

Kastellec, Jonathan P. and Lax, Jeffrey R. and Phillips, Justin, Public Opinion and Senate Confirmation of Supreme Court Nominees (September 30, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1244542 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1244542

Jonathan P. Kastellec (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Fisher Hall
Department of Politics
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

Jeffrey R. Lax

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

MC3320
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Justin Phillips

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

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