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Judicial Selection: Politics, Biases, and Constituency Demands


  • Thomas Stratmann

    (George Mason University)

  • Gared Garner

    (University of Virginia)


The determinants of recent U.S. district court judges and appellate court judges selection have been subject of much debate, but little systematic evidence has been presented to substantiate claims regarding discrimination against particular groups of judicial nominees, nor regarding the length of the appointment process. We study both the length of the nominations process, and the likelihood of confirmation and emphasize the role of Senatorial seniority and agenda control in the confirmations process. We find that Senators with agenda control have a positive effect on the speed and likelihood of confirmation and that nominees from states with comparatively senior Senators receive expedited treatment relative to other nominees. Although politics matter in the confirmation process, Senators are responsive to perceived “shortage” of judges, since they fill seats faster when a relatively large number of court seats are vacant. Nominees with higher personal qualifications are also more likely to experience success in confirmations. We found no evidence of gender or race discrimination on the part of the Senate.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Stratmann & Gared Garner, 2003. "Judicial Selection: Politics, Biases, and Constituency Demands," Law and Economics 0302001, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 06 Mar 2003.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwple:0302001
    Note: Type of Document - acrobat pdf; prepared on IBM PC ; to print on HP; pages: 31 ; figures: included

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Weingast, Barry R & Marshall, William J, 1988. "The Industrial Organization of Congress; or, Why Legislatures, Like Firms, Are Not Organized as Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 132-163, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bonica, Adam & Sen, Maya, 2017. "The Politics of Selecting the Bench from the Bar: The Legal Profession and Partisan Incentives to Introduce Ideology into Judicial Selection," Working Paper Series rwp17-048, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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    judicial selection; discrimination;

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    • K - Law and Economics

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