Polarizing the Electoral Connection: Partisan Representation in Supreme Court Confirmation Politics

45 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2010 Last revised: 28 Feb 2015

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

Michael Malecki

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science

Justin Phillips

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 27, 2015

Abstract

Do senators respond to the preferences of their state's median voter or only to the preferences of their co-partisans? We develop a method for estimating state-level public opinion broken down by partisanship so that we can distinguish between general and partisan responsiveness. We use these estimates to study responsiveness in the context of Senate confirmation votes on Supreme Court nominees. We find that senators more heavily weight their partisan base when casting such roll call votes. Indeed, when their state median voter and party median voter disagree, senators strongly favor the latter. This has significant implications for the study of legislative responsiveness and the role of public opinion in shaping the members of the nation's highest court. The methodological approach we develop allows more nuanced analyses of public opinion and its effects, as well as more finely grained studies of legislative behavior and policy-making.

Keywords: Supreme Court, Nominations, Senate, Parties, Responsiveness, Multilevel Models

Suggested Citation

Kastellec, Jonathan P. and Lax, Jeffrey R. and Malecki, Michael and Phillips, Justin, Polarizing the Electoral Connection: Partisan Representation in Supreme Court Confirmation Politics (February 27, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1673895 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1673895

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

Michael Malecki

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science ( email )

One Brookings Drive
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
3129709580 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://malecki.wustl.edu

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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