Supremely Political: The Role of Ideology and Presidential Management in Unsuccessful Supreme Court Nominations

By John Massaro | Go to book overview

1. IDEOLOGY AND TIMING IN THE
FORTAS, HAYNSWORTH, AND
CARSWELL NOMINATIONS

It is simply a matter of judicial philosophy.

— Senator Ernest F. Hollings


THE DOMINANT ROLE OF IDEOLOGY

The major factor leading the Senate to turn down the nominations of Abe Fortas, 1 Clement F. Haynsworth, Jr., 2 and G. Harrold Carswell3 was the perceived ideology of the nominees. In all three instances, senators consistently favored or opposed the nominations on the basis of whether or not they were in accord with the basic philosophy they believed the nominees would rely upon in deciding cases once they assumed their positions on the Court. 4 Most senators apparently accepted the view that a justice's basic philosophy will have a profound effect on the decisions he/she renders as a member of the Supreme Court.

The dominant role of ideology is not instantly recognizable in the Fortas, Haynsworth, and Carswell cases because of the presence of other factors which conceivably could have led senators to oppose confirmation. As the following discussion will indicate, sufficient information was available for senators to oppose confirmation on several grounds. The three leading factors which could have conceivably moved senators to oppose confirmation can be classified as follows: (1) the nominee's ideology, (2) the nominee's party affiliation, and (3) non-ideological considerations. A discussion of the information available to senators which was pertinent to each of these factors follows.

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