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The Selling of Supreme Court Nominees (Interpreting American Politics)
ISBN 0801858836 / 9780801858833 / 0-8018-5883-6
Publisher The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Think that controversial Supreme Court confirmation hearings are a recent phenomenon? You may be surprised to learn of the large numbers of rejections of nominations to the Court in the 19th century for reasons one might think trivial today. John Anthony Maltese documents the increased role of special-interest groups in the nominations process; as recently as 1970, a justice could be nominated and approved with a day of hearings without a single organization testifying--without even a specific public statement of support from the president. In contrast, the Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas hearings lasted more than 10 days, with representatives from 60 organizations filling thousands of transcript pages with their testimony. Because of the necessarily small sample sizes, Maltese occasionally has to torture his data to come to his conclusions (how much does President John Tyler's nomination troubles in the 1840s really tell us about today's system?), but he provides a brisk overview of the process, its increased politicization, and President Clinton's success in avoiding divisive confirmation battles. --Ted Frank [via]