Strategic Selection: Presidential Nomination of Supreme Court Justices From Herbert Hoover Through George W. Bush

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Overview

The process by which presidents decide whom to nominate to fill Supreme Court vacancies is obviously of far-ranging importance, particularly because the vast majority of nominees are eventually confirmed. But why is one individual selected from among a pool of presumably qualified candidates? In Strategic Selection: Presidential Nomination of Supreme Court Justices from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush, Christine Nemacheck makes heavy use of presidential papers to reconstruct the politics of nominee selection from Herbert Hoover’s appointment of Charles Evan Hughes in 1930 through President George W. Bush’s nomination of Samuel Alito in 2005. Bringing to light firsthand evidence of selection politics and of the influence of political actors, such as members of Congress and presidential advisors, from the initial stages of formulating a short list through the president’s final selection of a nominee, Nemacheck constructs a theoretical framework that allows her to assess the factors impacting a president’s selection process.

Much work on Supreme Court nominations focuses on struggles over confirmation, or is heavily based on anecdotal material and posits the "idiosyncratic" nature of the selection process; in contrast, Strategic Selection points to systematic patterns in judicial selection. Nemacheck argues that although presidents try to maximize their ideological preferences and minimize uncertainty about nominees’ conduct once they are confirmed, institutional factors that change over time, such as divided government and the institutionalism of the presidency, shape and constrain their choices. By revealing the pattern of strategic action, which she argues is visible from the earliest stages of the selection process, Nemacheck takes us a long way toward understanding this critically important part of our political system.

University of Virginia Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

"Nemacheck... gives a rigorously tested, ambitiously comprehensive study that is a valuable contribution to president–Court studies."— Choice

Sarah A. Binder

Digging deep into the archival records of presidents from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush, Christine Nemacheck has produced a creative, fascinating, and insightful treatment of how presidents select their Supreme Court nominees. Nemacheck is the first to offer a systematic investigation of the political and institutional dynamics that underlie the White House’s selection of nominees for the Court. Her account is historically nuanced and analytically sharp—a must-read for anyone who cares about the past and future of the nation’s highest court.

Choice

"Nemacheck... gives a rigorously tested, ambitiously comprehensive study that is a valuable contribution to president–Court studies."— Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813927435
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 5/10/2008
  • Series: Constitutionalism and Democracy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Christine L. Nemacheck is Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at the College of William and Mary.

University of Virginia Press

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Table of Contents


List of Tables and Figures     viii
Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1
An Overview of the Supreme Court Nomination Process     17
Uncertainty and Strategic Action as a Theoretical Framework     30
Presidents' Short Lists     55
Selective Listening: Congressional Endorsements and Compiling the Short List     61
The Scope of the Debate: Advising the President     83
Strategic Selection: The Final Choice     107
Implications of Strategic Selection     133
Epilogue     141
Short Lists for Supreme Court Nominations     147
Notes     157
Works Consulted     167
Index     181
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