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Battle over the Bench : Senators, Interest Groups and Lower Court Confirmations - Amy Steigerwalt

Battle over the Bench

Senators, Interest Groups and Lower Court Confirmations

Hardcover Published: 9th August 2010
ISBN: 9780813929941
Number Of Pages: 304
For Ages: 22+ years old

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Who gets seated on the lower federal courts and why? Why are some nominees confirmed easily while others travel a long, hard road to confirmation? What role do senators and interest groups play in determining who will become a federal judge? The lower federal courts have increasingly become the final arbiters of the important political and social issues of the day. As a result, who gets seated on the bench has become a major political issue. In Battle over the Bench, Amy Steigerwalt argues that the key to understanding the dynamics of the lower court confirmation process is to examine the process itself. She offers a new analytic framework for understanding when nominations become contested, and shows when and how key actors can influence the fate of nominations and ultimately determine who will become a federal judge.

Given the increasing salience of lower court decisions, it is not surprising that interest groups and partisan agendas play an important role. Steigerwalt inventories the means by which senators push through or block nominations, and why interest groups decide to support or oppose certain nominations. The politics of judicial confirmations do not end there, however. Steigerwalt also reveals how many nominees are blocked for private political reasons that have nothing to do with ideology, while senators may use their support for or opposition to nominees as bargaining chips to garner votes for their positions on unrelated issues. "Battle over the Bench" showcases the complex and, at times, hidden motivations driving the staffing of the federal bench.

Constitutionalism and Democracy

Steigerwalt uses elite interviews with Senate staffers, a former U.S. senator, and interest group leaders to examine how interest groups participate in lower court confirmation proceedings, why they participate, and whether their participation is seen as effective in the view of those in the Senate. The first-hand account provides new and important insight into the confirmation process and further illuminates our understanding of why some nominations move relatively quickly through to confirmation while others are delayed or even blocked altogether.

--Christine L. Nemacheck, College of William and Mary, author of Strategic Selection: Presidential Nomination of Supreme Court Justices from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush (Virginia)

Battle over the Bench represents valuable research about an important and timely topic--the confirmation by the United States Senate of presidential nominations to the lower federal courts and why it matters. There are numerous important findings, and Steigerwalt's book is, in my judgment, the most theoretically sophisticated book on lower court confirmations. She succeeds admirably in her goals. This is unquestionably a major addition to the literature.

--Sheldon Goldman, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, author of Picking Federal Judges: Lower Court Selection from Roosevelt through Reagan

List of Tables and Figuresp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: The Changing Tone of Lower Federal Court Confirmationsp. 1
What Makes a Nomination Run into Trouble? Senators, Interest Groups, and the Four Tracks to Confirmationp. 23
Death to Nominees: Senatorial Courtesy and the Ability to "Kill" Judicial Confirmationsp. 49
"Herding Cats": Holds and Private Political Fightsp. 67
Interest Groups and Judicial Confirmations: A View from the Senatep. 95
Interest Groups and the Decision to Object: Sending Confirmations down the Public Partisan Trackp. 119
Whither Nominees? The Fate of Nominations Sent down the Public Partisan Trackp. 149
Conclusion: What the Future Holds for Lower Court Nominations and the Senate Confirmation Processp. 185
Data Collection Methodologyp. 199
Variable Descriptions and Measurements for Tobit Regressionsp. 202
Circuit Court Nominations Opposed by Interest Groups, 99th-109th Congresses (1985-2006)p. 207
Notesp. 209
Bibliographyp. 237
Indexp. 253
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780813929941
ISBN-10: 0813929946
Series: Constitutionalism and Democracy
Audience: Professional
For Ages: 22+ years old
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 9th August 2010
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.52