Practical Politics: Explaining Duration Variation in the Judicial Appointment Process Open Access

Hartsough, Rebecca (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/kw52j8092?locale=en
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Abstract

In the realm of American judicial politics, scholars have consistently explored the selection and appointment of federal judges. In recent decades, however, much of the work on the federal judicial appointment process has been concerned with the perceived delays in the process, both at the presidential nomination stage and the Senate confirmation stage. Thus far, these scientists have attributed the variation in appointment durations to partisan gridlock and changing political conditions. In this dissertation, I present the argument that judiciary-specific conditions and the functioning of federal courts play a role in how political actors approach judicial selection. Of course, this is not to say that politics do not matter, rather that politics alone fails to capture the dynamics conditioning the timing of federal judicial nominations and confirmations. This dissertation replicates and assesses the effects of political variables scholars have previously identified as influencing appointment durations as well as introduces and evaluates the impact of judiciary-specific variables on presidential nomination and Senate confirmation timing. On the whole, this study confirms that political institutions still impact the speed of the appointment process, but also reveals so too do the previously unidentified judiciary-specific variables. The evidence suggests that presidents and senators do factor in the operations and functioning of the federal courts as they proceed in their constitutional appointment roles. 

Table of Contents

Contents

 

 

Chapter 1—Introduction                                                                                              1  

 

Chapter 2—Literature Review                                                                                   8                                      

            The Nomination Stage…………………………………………………………9

            The Confirmation Stage……………………………………………………...23

 

Chapter 3—Theory                                                                                                      37

 

            Political Conditions……………………………………………………………38

            Conditions Affecting the Judiciary's Functional Operations……………...55

            Final Remarks…………………………………………………………………66

 

Chapter 4—Data & Models                                                                                        68

 

            Empirical Analyses……………………………………………………………69

            Independent Variables………………………………………………………..73

            Model Estimation……………………………………………………………...79

            Extensions of the Model……………………………………………………...79

            The Interviews…………………………………………………………………80

 

Chapter 5—Presidential Nomination Analysis                                                     83

 

            Presidential Nomination Model

                        First Iteration.................................................................................84

            Presidential Nomination Model Extension

                        Divided vs. Unified Government..................................................102

            Presidential Nomination Model Extension

                        1973-1992 vs. 1993-2012...........................................................116

            Summation.............................................................................................130

            Final Remarks........................................................................................154

 

Chapter 6—Senate Confirmation Analysis                                                         155 

 

            Senate Confirmation Model

                        First Iteration...............................................................................155

            Senate Confirmation Model Extension

                        Divided vs. Unified Government..................................................175

            Senate Confirmation Model Extension

                        1973-1992 vs. 1993-2012...........................................................188

            Summation.............................................................................................201

            Final Remarks........................................................................................223

 

Chapter 7—Conclusion                                                                                           225

 

            Summary of Findings.............................................................................226

            Study Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research.......................236

            Final Observations.........................................................................,.......238

 

Bibliography....................................................................................................240

 

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