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date: 07 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the historical development of the modern-day lower court appointment process. When lower court judgeships were used as patronage, the process ran smoothly from nomination by the president through confirmation by the Senate. Today, however, these judgeships are used for other political purposes by the president and senators. This is because elites (party leaders and interest groups) associated with each of the two major parties follow the process closely, and they demand that the “right” kind of judges be appointed to the lower federal courts. In turn, presidents and senators now use the lower court appointment process to “score points” with these key party-affiliated elites. Thus, as the two parties cater to interest groups and party bases on the opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, and presidents and senators follow suit, the lower court appointment process has become highly partisan and contentious.

Keywords: appointment politics, lower federal courts, patronage, interest groups, advice and consent, partisanship

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