Critical Judicial Nominations and Political Change: The Impact of Clarence Thomas

Synopsis

Smith introduces a new concept, "critical judicial nominations," to advance scholars' understanding of the consequences of the federal nomination process for the Supreme Court and the American political system. The study suggests that specific events related to the judicial branch, namely "critical judicial nominations," have significant unanticipated consequences for the Supreme Court's role in the political system, as well as for electoral politics. This is demonstrated in illustrative historical examples which, most importantly, include an in-depth case study of the Clarence Thomas nomination and its subsequent ramifications.