The Gatekeepers: Federal District Courts in the Political Process

By Kevin L. Lyles | Go to book overview
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conservative and staunchly committed to the status quo. They believe in the basic values and tradition of the legal and political communities from which they come . . . local boys who made it good. 105

In general, Table 3.11 offers comparative background characteristics on recent presidents' appointments to the federal district courts.


The purpose of this chapter has been to review the basic institutional and systemic parameters and primary participants in district court judicial selection, for example, the president, the senators of the party of the president (and those of the other party), the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Department of Justice and the attorney general, and the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary. It is important toy note that in more recent times the president no longer solely initiates the process; it may also start in the Senate when the senators from the states involved send names to--or request names from--the Department of Justice.

In the main, there has been an increase in both the numbers of individuals and organizations involved in the process and an increasing independence of these participants, particularly the roles and influence of the attorneys general and Senate Judiciary Committee. Another principal finding, generated from the NDJS data, is that in most instances significant majorities of judges acknowledge, as well as support, the highly politicized nature of the appointment processes.

The next three chapters, Chapter 4 ( 1960-1975), Chapter 5 ( 1976-1987), and Chapter 6 ( 1988-1996), develop the presidential policy objective and expectation profiles for each president to better understand how and to what extent specific presidents tailored the selection, nomination, and confirmation processes.

Jack Peltason, Federal Courts in the Political Process ( New York: Random House, 1955), p. 29.
The classic study of the appointment process of lower court federal judges is Harold W. Chase , Federal Judges: The Appointing Process ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1972).
For a well developed discussion of these debates see Joseph P. Harris, The Advice and Consent of the Senate ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1953), pp. 17-35, esp. chapter 2.
Eugene. W. Hickok Jr. "Judicial Selection: The Political Roots of Advice and Consent," in Henry J. Abraham, Judicial Selection: Merit, Ideology, and Politics, with Griffin B. Bell , Charles E. Grassley, Eugene W. Hickok Jr., John W. Kem III, Stephen J. Markman , and William Bradford Reynolds, eds. ( Washington, DC: National Legal Center for the Public Interest, 1990), p. 6.This source hereafter cited as Abraham, Judicial Selection: Merit, Ideology, and Politics.


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