Making the Supreme Court: The Politics of Appointments, 1930-2020

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Making the Supreme Court: The Politics of Appointments 1930-2020 tells the story of 90 years of Supreme Court appointments. It examines what happened, why it happened, the consequences for the Supreme Court, the future of appointments, and the prospects for reform. In a nutshell, the growth of federal judicial power created a multitude of groups struggling over judicial policy. The activists penetrated the national party system so presidential candidates increasingly pledged to select nominees who conformed to policy litmus tests. Presidents reshaped the executive selection system from casual and haphazard to meticulous and effective. The public face of appointments evolved from a brief and usually closed affair to a highly visible political campaign mobilizing public opinion via intensive media coverage fueled by controversy. Voting in the Senate gained an engaged and attentive audience, pressuring senators into party line votes. The result is a new politics aimed squarely at confirming judicial ideologues and only judicial ideologues, despite public wishes to the contrary. Critically, the events of 2016 locked in place a conservative majority, probably for decades. But, reforms might alter this future. Based on massive data combined with rich qualitative evidence, Making the Supreme Court employs new theories, cutting-edge techniques, and a novel perspective on political institutions. Finally, it provides a sharp lens on the social and political transformations that created a new American politics. It will appeal not only to students of the Supreme Court but to anyone concerned with the future of American politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages486
ISBN (Electronic)9780197680575
ISBN (Print)9780197680537
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


  • Court packing
  • Median justice
  • Polarization of American elites
  • Supreme Court
  • Supreme Court Senate voting
  • Supreme Court appointments
  • Supreme Court future
  • Supreme Court interest groups
  • Supreme Court litmus tests
  • Supreme Court nominations
  • Supreme Court nominations media
  • Supreme Court nominations public opinion
  • Supreme Court nominee
  • Supreme Court reform
  • Supreme Court term limits


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