Moore, Amanda Brooke Walker
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Much has been said about what influences senatorial confirmation votes in Supreme Court appointments. Despite the preponderance of scholarly works, determining the most influential factors in the process can be difficult. This is especially the case with the recent confirmations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito to the Court. Despite the fact that both nominees were nominated by the same president, were nominated mere months apart, and are ideologically similar, their confirmation votes differed considerably. This work begins by outlining the history and evolution of the Supreme Court confirmation process; this description will include an outline of debates about the Appointments Clause at the Constitutional Convention, as well as a discussion of how and why the roles of major actors involved in the process have changed. Previous literature on the appointments process, as well as literature addressing the factors influencing Senate confirmation votes, will also be presented. Subsequent chapters will provide narratives of the Roberts and Alito appointments. This discussion will outline the nominees’ judicial backgrounds, the behavior of major actors in the process, the issues and controversies that were prominent in each appointment, and details of the confirmation hearings. Finally, several factors - critical nomination, party, ideology, same party status for the president in the Senate, year of the president’s term, qualifications, and presidential popularity ratings - will be examined to see what factor best accounts for the differences in the Roberts and Alito votes.