Appointing Federal Judges: The President, the Senate, and the Prisoner's Dilemma

48 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2004

See all articles by David S. Law

David S. Law

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law; University of California, Irvine School of Law

Abstract

This paper argues that the expansion of the White House's role in judicial appointments since the late 1970s, at the expense of the Senate, has contributed to heightened levels of ideological conflict and gridlock over the appointment of federal appeals court judges, by making a cooperative equilibrium difficult to sustain. Presidents have greater electoral incentive to behave ideologically, and less incentive to cooperate with other players in the appointments process, than do senators, who are disciplined to a greater extent in their dealings with each other by the prospect of retaliation over repeat play. The possibility of divided government exacerbates the difficulty of achieving cooperative equilibrium by making both the benefits of cooperative behavior and the costs of retaliation highly uncertain.

Keywords: judicial appointments, federal judges, prisoner's dilemma, federal appointments process

Suggested Citation

Law, David S., Appointing Federal Judges: The President, the Senate, and the Prisoner's Dilemma. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=562324

David S. Law (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Hong Kong, Hong Kong
China

HOME PAGE: http://www.davidlaw.ca

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

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United States

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