The Gatekeepers: Federal District Courts in the Political Process

By Kevin L. Lyles | Go to book overview

ture ABA committee chairman), who was assisted by two career attorneys. Reports indicate that Tyler enjoyed a "virtually free hand," in other words, conferring with Levi only after conducting his own investigations of nominees. 214 Tyler also worked to rebuild stronger relations with the ABA.

In conclusion, for the most part Ford was a chief executive fighting for not only his own political career, but also to restore the credibility of the office of the president and the integrity of the Department of Justice. If Ford's civil rights agenda, as well as his involvement in judicial selection and nomination was less developed than those of his immediate predecessors, they were almost nonexistent compared to his immediate successors, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. As we shall see, during the Carter and Reagan administrations, the processes for selecting federal district court judges underwent overwhelming changes and developments. These matters are discussed in the next chapter.


NOTES
1.
As explained by E. E. Schattschneider, some two decades ago, "The definition of the alternatives is the supreme instrument of power. . . . He who determines what politics is about runs the country, because the definition of alternatives is the choice of conflict, and the choice of conflict allocates power." See E. E. Schattschneider, The Semisovereign People, 2nd ed. (Hinsdale, IL: The Dryden Press, 1975), p. 66.
2.
See Paul Charles Light, The Presidential Agenda ( Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), pp. 2-3.
3.
Ibid., p. 62.
4.
Sheldon Goldman, "Judicial Appointments and the Presidential Agenda," in Paul Brace , Christine B. Harrington, and Gary King, eds., The Presidency in American Politics ( New York: New York University Press, 1989), pp. 20-21.
5.
Symbolism and substance in American law and politics are inextricably linked, and this linkage makes symbols and symbolic forms a salient feature in the allocation of goods and services, i.e., the resolution of group interest conflict. And so, we must bear in mind that presidents also at times promote symbolic signals that may or may not be realized or even shared by their judicial appointments. See Murray Edelman, The Symbolic Uses of Politics ( Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1967).
6.
Presidential Candidate John Kennedy in a speech before the "American Bar Association on August 30,1960". Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1961, p. 375.
7.
Theodore Otto Windt Jr., Presidents and Protesters: Political Rhetoric in the 1960s ( Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1990), p. 19.
8.
Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1960, p. 84.
9.
Theodore White pointed out that in Illinois, which Kennedy carried by 9,000 votes, 250,000 blacks were estimated to have voted for Kennedy. And in Michigan, which Kennedy carried by 67,000 votes, another 250,000 blacks were estimated to have voted for him. See Theodore H. White, The Making of the President 1960 ( New York: Atheneum, 1961), p. 323. It is reported that President Eisenhower claimed that Kennedy won the presidency because of a single phone call. When Martin Luther King, Jr. was jailed in Atlanta and sentenced to a four-month term at hard labor at a rural Georgia prison, Democratic candidate Kennedy telephoned Mrs. King to offer support. However, further investigation provided by Mark Stern suggests that the decision to call Mrs. King

-103-

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