Supreme Court Appointments: Judge Bork and the Politicization of Senate Confirmations

By Norman Vieira; Leonard Gross | Go to book overview

22
JUDGE GINSBURG: A DEMOCRAT FACES THE CONFIRMATION PROCESS

On March 19, 1993, Justice Byron White announced that he would retire in June, at the end of the Supreme Court's Term. White's resignation meant that a Democratic President would appoint a member of the Supreme Court for the first time in a quarter of a century. There was speculation that President Clinton might try to counteract the appointment of conservative justices during the Reagan-Bush administrations by nominating a committed liberal to succeed Justice White. The assumption was that because the Democratic Party controlled both the Senate and the White House, the president would have a free hand in making the appointment. But as many of Judge Bork's opponents would soon discover, the effects of the battle over Robert Bork could not be confined to nominations by conservative Republicans. In the new atmosphere of Supreme Court appointments, a committed liberal was likely to find the confirmation process as daunting as would a committed conservative.

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton had suggested in an interview on MTV that Governor Mario Cuomo of New York would be an ideal choice for the Supreme Court. In view of the fact that New York was a critical state for Clinton in the November election, this suggestion was certainly understandable, even if it did not necessarily reflect any firm intention on Clinton's part. Following White's announcement, there was predictable speculation that Cuomo would be nominated. However, after a great deal of hemming and hawing by Cuomo and some noticeable silence from Clinton, Governor Cuomo withdrew his name

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