The Politics of Supreme Court Nominations: A Theory of Institutional Constraints and Choices

  • Moraski B
  • Shipan C
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Abstract

When a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court, the president can attempt to use his power of nomination strategically in order to bring thte Court in line with his own policy preferences. However, the president faces two constraints when attempting to do so. First, he may be constrained by the presence of continuing justices and the existing Court median. Second, he may be constrained by the Senate, which must approve his nominee. In this paper, we develop and test a theory that examines that conditions under which a president is constrained in his choice of a nominee. Our results show that presidents can, and do, behave strategically with respect to Supreme Court nominations.

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Authors

  • Bryon J. Moraski

  • Charles R. Shipan

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