Reform in theappointment process for U.S. courts of appeals judges, 1977-1998
Holmes, Lisa Marie
MetadataShow full item record
The appointment process for judges to the U.S. Courts of Appeals has undergone significant reform in the past 25 years brought about by the increased political salience and policy-making role of circuit court judges. President Jimmy Carter instituted reforms aimed at providing more independence from home-state senators in the selection of nominees. Former Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-MA) altered the Committee's role in the confirmation process in order to allow an independent ability to investigate nominees. The purported purpose of the reforms was to remove the vestiges of patronage and senatorial courtesy from the appointment process, in favor or selecting judges based on merit, qualifications, and background characteristics. | In this study, the implications of appointment reforms are examined for various stages in the appointment process. The modern appointment process is characterized by increasingly long delay in both the selection and confirmation procedures, as well as decreased opportunities for outside actors to testify at the confirmation hearings. Institutional reforms and the political climate of the day largely dictate how judicial appointments proceed with respect to nominee success, delay, and outside participation, with a less-consistent influence played by the background and characteristics of the individual nominee. This situation has serious implications for the efficient staffing of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, with more vacancies languishing for longer periods of time. The modern appointment process, therefore, is compromising the ability of the courts of appeals to accommodate growing caseloads and policy influence by preventing the efficient staffing of judges onto the bench.