Lower Federal Court Confirmations

Motivations and Strategies

Authored by: Amy Steigerwalt , Wendy L. Martinek

Routledge Handbook of Judicial Behavior

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138913356
eBook ISBN: 9781315691527
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315691527.ch18

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Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of the extant literature on lower court confirmations. Attention to the lower court selection process was fairly limited—in terms of both scholarly attention and political attention—until relatively recently. Given that studies of lower court confirmation processes only really began in the 1990s, and picked up steam in the 2000s, it is perhaps not surprising that there is a fair amount of work that is primarily descriptive in nature. Further, the study of confirmation politics has been viewed somewhat narrowly by most as an area of concern only to scholars of law and courts. We argue that one way to overcome this shortsighted perception is for scholars directing their attention to the staffing of the lower federal court bench to frame their studies in the context of what they tell us about the motivations and strategies of key actors in the political arena. It then becomes self-evident why these studies should be of interest to presidency, congressional, and interest-group scholars alike. With that goal in mind, we provide our assessment of the current state of the literature from the vantage point of the motivations and strategies driving three main actors: presidents, senators, and interest groups. We then utilize this framework to propose areas where we think the field is ripe for additional exploration and study.

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