A Better Way to Appoint Justices

By Lee Epstein. Lee Epstein, associate professor of political science judicial politics. | The Christian Science Monitor, March 17, 1992 | Go to article overview

A Better Way to Appoint Justices


Lee Epstein. Lee Epstein, associate professor of political science judicial politics., The Christian Science Monitor


WITH rumors abounding that George Bush may have a chance to appoint another justice to the Supreme Court, we must reexamine the process before we are enmeshed in it. As the confirmation proceedings for Clarence Thomas last fall indicated, something is seriously wrong with the way we appoint justices to the nation's highest court.

We need to take a radical step to alter the entire nomination and confirmation process - and thus the political calculus of the president and the Senate: Let's amend the Constitution and require two-thirds of the Senate to confirm Supreme Court justices. This is a drastic proposal. No one likes to tinker with the Constitution. The framers erected an intricate system of government in which manipulation of one part inevitably affects the way another functions.

But the framers had little idea of the role the Supreme Court would come to play in United States politics. Nor did they envision the role politics would play in the court's decisions. Rather they imagined, as Alexander Hamilton wrote, a court full of principled justices who would "declare the sense of the law" through "inflexible and uniform adherence to the rights of the Constitution and of individuals."

That is why the framers developed the unique system of nomination, confirmation, and life tenure: to keep justices above partisan politics. Had they foreseen courts of recent eras, courts composed largely of legal activists eager to see their values etched into law, they would have devised a different scheme.

From the beginning, presidents have tried to pack the court with partisan or ideological soulmates. After his party lost the election of 1800, President John Adams and lame-duck Federalist senators hastily appointed a host of like-minded federal judges before the Jeffersonians came into power.

Although neither the confirmation process nor the court itself has ever measured up to the Constitution's lofty expectations, at no time in the past were they simultaneously so out of control. Requiring a two-thirds confirmation vote for justices would start to realize the framers' vision.

* A two-thirds vote would change, for the better, the political calculations of the president. Presidents - be they Democrats or Republicans - would have to rethink whom they nominated to the court. To gain approval of their nominees, they would need true bipartisan support, not just a few crossover votes. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Better Way to Appoint Justices
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.