Judicial Selection and Judicial Choice
33 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 29 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2009
The divisiveness of the lower federal court confirmation process has been the focus of extensive commentary by political pundits and scholars alike. The engine driving the controversy is the notion that who sits on the federal bench makes a difference for subsequent policy outcomes. However, while a great deal of attention has been paid to differences in the decision making of judges appointed by different presidents, virtually no attention has been paid to whether the concerns of actors involved in the process have been borne out in the behavior of nominees who were controversial at the time of their nomination to the bench (but ultimately were successful in securing confirmation). In other words, we have no rigorous, systematic evidence as to whether controversial nominees do, in fact, behave differently than other nominees once they don the black robe. Using data from 1977-2002 on nominations to the U.S. Courts of Appeals and the voting behavior of court of appeals jurists for the same period, here we empirically investigate whether judges who were considered more controversial during their confirmation process are more ideologically-driven in their voting behavior than other (less controversial) judges.
Keywords: courts of appeals, judicial nomination, judicial behavior
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