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Lee Epstein
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Lee Epsteing Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor
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THE ROLE OF QUALIFICATIONS IN THE CONFIRMATION OF NOMINEES TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT
Published in 2005. Florida State University Law Review 32 (4): 1145-1173.

LEE EPSTEIN
JEFFREY A. SEGAL
NANCY STAUDT
RENÉ LINDSTÄDT

In light of concerns that politics, philosophy, and ideology now dominate the federal judicial appointment process—a process that many claim should emphasize ethics, competence, and integrity—scholars have offered a range of proposals. A considerable number, though, aim to compel elected actors to focus on the candidates' qualifications rather than on their political preferences.

Without taking a normative position on these sorts of proposals, we demonstrate empirically that the process leading to the appointment of (at least) Supreme Court justices may not be the "mess" that the proposals suggest. While it is true that U.S. Senators are more likely to cast votes for nominees who are ideologically proximate to them, it is also the case that the nominees' qualifications play a significant role in accounting for the choices Senators make.

Click here for the article (.pdf).
Click here for a zipped Stata file containing the data we used in the article.
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