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32 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 1145 (2004-2005)
The Role of Qualifications in the Confirmation of Nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court

handle is hein.journals/flsulr32 and id is 1157 raw text is: THE ROLE OF QUALIFICATIONS IN THE
CONFIRMATION OF NOMINEES TO THE U.S.
SUPREME COURT
LEE EPSTEIN,* JEFFREY A. SEGAL,** NANCY STAUDT*** AND RENE
LINDSTADT****
In light of concerns that politics, philosophy, and ideology now domi-
nate 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, qualifications also play
a significant role in accounting for the choices Senators make.
I.  INTRODU CTIO N  ....................................................................................................  1146
II. THE CONFIRMATION OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICES: POLITICS VERSUS
Q UALIFICATIONS  ...............................................................................................  1149
III. QUALIFICATIONS AND THE CONFIRMATION OF SUPREME COURT NOMINEES:
O U R  STUD Y  .......................................................................................................  1153
A. The Dependent Variable: Confirmation Votes ........................................... 1155
B. An Independent Variable of Primary Interest: Qualifications ................... 1157
C .  Ideology  ......................................................................................................  116 1
1.  The  Ideology  of the  Nom inee ................................................................  1161
2.  The  Ideology  of Senators ......................................................................  1163
3. Comparing the Ideology of Nominees and Senators ............................ 1165
D .  Control  Variables  .......................................................................................  1166
E.  Sum m ary  of  the  M odel ...............................................................................  1167
IV .  RESULTS  OF  THE  ANALYSES  ..............................................................................  1168
V .  D ISCU SSION  .......................................................................................................  1173
* Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of Political Science
and Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis (http://epstein.wustl.edu)
(last visited Feb. 7, 2005). We are grateful to the National Science Foundation for sup-
porting our research and Andrew D. Martin for offering useful comments. We used R
(http://www.R-project.org) (last visited Feb. 7, 2005) and Stata to conduct the analyses
and   to  generate  the graphs presented     in  this Essay. The project's website
(http://epstein.wustl.edu/research/qualified.html) (last visited Feb. 7, 2005) houses the
database. Please send all correspondence to Lee Epstein. Email: epstein@wustl.edu.
Post: Department of Political Science, Washington University, CB 1063, 1 Brookings
Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130.
** Professor of Political Science at Stony Brook University (http://www.sunysb.edu/
polsciljsegallindexbody.html) (last visited Feb. 7, 2005).
*** Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis (http://law.wustl.edu/
Academics/Faculty/Staudt) (last visited Feb. 7, 2005).
**** Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis
(http://artsci.wustl.edu/-rlindsta) (last visited Feb. 7, 2005).
1145

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