Republican candidates and in support of liberal Democratic candidates.
The discussions of critical judicial nominations in the chapters that follow do not purport to provide a comprehensive theory about judicial nominations that would have predictive abilities for anticipating the consequences of future nominations. The concept of critical judicial nominations provides an alternative approach for analyzing the role and impact of the Supreme Court in the political governing system. Hopefully, the concept helps to illuminate aspects of the Court's influence and importance for American society that are obscured or omitted by analyses that focus on the Court as an institution or on the Court's decision making alone. Future development of the concept may provide useful refinements for defining and identifying critical judicial nominations and their conditional prerequisites. Further research is needed if any theory of critical judicial nominations is to be developed, defined, and evaluated. This initial effort has modest aspirations rather than grand pretensions in presenting a new concept and alternative approach for analyzing important events in the Supreme Court's history.
The chapters that follow will illustrate the critical nomination concept primarily through an examination of the 1991 nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas. Chapter 2 will discuss three critical nominations to illuminate various potential applications of the concept. Justice Thomas's nomination and impact on the Supreme Court will be analyzed in Chapter 3. Chapters 4 and 5 will discuss the catalytic elements of the Thomas nomination process and their significant consequences for the political system, especially with respect to electoral politics, before the concluding chapter assesses the utility of the critical judicial nomination concept.