The Gatekeepers: Federal District Courts in the Political Process

By Kevin L. Lyles | Go to book overview
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I am committed to trying to eliminate judicial activism without regard to whether my party appointed the judges or whether I like the outcome in a particular case as a policy matter. 239

Some Senate Democrats, however, have claimed that the Hatch-Ashcroft crusade against judicial activism is simply a smoke screen to block Clinton's second term nominees. "They don't' like the fact that Clinton is president and has the power to appoint federal judges," said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the judiciary committee. "They're out to stop these nominees, and any excuse will do."240 Just two months after the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on judicial activism began, Attorney General Janet Reno devoted an entire speech to this issue. As reported, Attorney General Reno, speaking in San Francisco on August 5, 1997, to the American Bar Association at its annual meeting, charged Senate Republicans with an "unprecedented slowdown" in confirming judges and with threatening "judicial independence."241

On balance, it is assured that Clinton's second term should provide unparalleled opportunities for making appointments to the federal courts as well as perhaps equally unparalleled partisan opposition to such appointments.


Having laid out the presidential expectation profiles in chapters 4, 5, and 6, I next turn to an analysis of the extent to which particular presidents have been able to promote their policy objectives via their judicial appointments to the federal district courts in Chapter 7.

George Bush, "Candidates State Positions on Federal Judicial Selection," Judicature 72 ( 1988), p. 77.
See Kerry Mullins and Aaron Wildavsky, "The Procedural Presidency of George Bush," Political Science Quarterly 107 ( 1992), pp. 46, 51; and Colin S. J. Campbell and Bert A. Rockman, eds., The Bush Presidency: First Appraisals ( Chatham, NJ: Chatham House Publishers, 1991).
See Mark Davis, "Writing for a President Indifferent to Speeches," Los Angeles Times, 17 January 1993; and Lance Blakesley, Presidential Leadership: From Eisenhower to Clinton ( Chicago: Nelson-Hall Publishers, 1995).
Bush, "Candidates State Positions on Federal Judicial Selection," p. 77.
Mark Silverstein, Judicious Choices: The Politics of Supreme Court Confirmations ( New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1994), p. 124.
Quoted in Neil A. Lewis, "Selection of Conservative Judges Guards Part of Bush Legacy," New York Times, July 1, 1992, p. A13.
Joan Biskupic, "Bush's Nominees Lack Baggage That Reagan's Often Carried," Congressional Quarterly, September 22, 1990, p. 3019.
George Bush, Looking Forward ( Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1987), p. 207.


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The Gatekeepers: Federal District Courts in the Political Process
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