Electing Justice

Electing Justice : Fixing the Supreme Court Nomination Process

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The nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court justices has, in recent years, become a battleground like no other. Bruising Senate confirmation hearings for failed nominee Robert Bork and successful nominee Clarence Thomas left the reputation of all branches of government in disarray and the participants-and the nation-exhausted. The Senate's Constitutional prerogative to provide advice and consent to the President's nominations to the highest court in the land has given rise to political grandstanding and ideological battles. Less well known is how other players-interest groups, the news media, and, through their involvement, the general public-also affect the conduct and outcome of the Supreme Court nomination process. Electing Justice reveals how from the late 1960s on, the role of these other players grew in intensity to the point that the nomination process would be unrecognizable to its original devisers, the Framers of the Constitution. Over the past quarter century, live television coverage of Senate hearings, "murder boards" in preparation for those hearings, a flood of press releases, television and radio advertisements, and public opinion polls all characterize nominations. Unlike earlier, more elite-governed processes, the involvement of outside groups has become highly public and their effect on the outcome of some nominations is now widely accepted. How should we respond to this informal democratization of the selection process? The genie, Davis contends, cannot be put back into the bottle and we cannot return to a non-political, elite-driven ideal. Davis concludes with several controversial recommendations that preserve the public role while avoiding the excesses of past controversial nominations. By embracing the public's new role in the examination of nominees we can ensure a democratic process and secure an independent and accountable judicial branch.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 220 pages
  • 160 x 236.2 x 25.4mm | 430.92g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • numerous tables
  • 0195181093
  • 9780195181098

Review quote

Richard Davis offers an insightful, provocative, and arresting view of the modern Supreme Court appointment process. It is, he demonstrates, more like an electoral campaign than the elite dominated and closed process developed by the Framers. The result is a landmark book about the modern process of finding high court judges. * Kermit Hall, President, University at Albany, SUNY * In an accessible book that should prove interesting to readers whether or not they are scholars, Davis traces major changes that have been made to the process of choosing justices. * Deseret Morning News * Analytic, well-researched and interesting historical review of the increasing recent role of the news media, public opinion and interest groups in the choice of U.S. Supreme Court Justices. * New York Law Journal * Electing Justice offers a useful and accessible tour of the current confirmation process, ultimately leading to a series of recommendations to fix perceived problems.... Davis also includes the suggestion that Supreme Court justices be elected, which is sure to be controversial. This volume would be an ideal choice for an advanced undergraduate course on judicial politics and perhaps as a supplementary text for a seminar on presidential and/or legislative politics. Davis' book is a 'good read' and is thought-provoking, to say the least, and it merits the attention of anyone interested in the politics of staffing the bench. * Law and Politics Book Review *show more

About Richard Davis

Richard Davis is Professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University. He is the author of The Web of Politics: The Internet's Impact on the American Political System (Oxford, 1999), The Press and American Politics, 3rd edition (Prentice Hall, 1994), and Politics and the Media (Prentice Hall, 1994). He is co-author of New Media and American Politics (Oxford, 1998), with Diana Owen and Campaigning Online: The Internet in U.S. Elections, with Bruce Bimber.show more

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