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Voting for Justices: Change and Continuity in Confirmation Voting 1937-2010

44 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2011  

Charles M. Cameron

Princeton University - Department of Political Science; Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Jonathan P. Kastellec

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Jee-Kwang Park

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Date Written: December 2, 2011

Abstract

The contentiousness of Senate voting on Supreme Court nominations increased dramatically from 1937-2010. We identify four potential sources of the increase: 1) changes in the Senate; 2) changes in the nominees; 3) changes in the political environment; and, 4) changes in senators' evaluative criteria. Using new data and improved statistical techniques, we estimate a well-performing model of senators' individual voting choices on Supreme Court nominees. Simulations allow an evaluation of the contribution of the four classes of factors to increased contentiousness. The principal source of increased contentiousness was the combination of increasingly extreme nominees and an increasingly polarized Senate. Also significant was the increased mobilization of interest groups. In sum, increased contentiousness seems largely to reflect the ideological polarization of American political elites.

Keywords: Supreme Court, Senate, nominations, roll call votes, polarization, interest groups, race

Suggested Citation

Cameron, Charles M. and Kastellec, Jonathan P. and Park, Jee-Kwang, Voting for Justices: Change and Continuity in Confirmation Voting 1937-2010 (December 2, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1968630 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1968630

Charles M. Cameron

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Jonathan P. Kastellec (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

Jee-Kwang Park

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

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