Judicial Choices Essay

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Judicial Choices

     Supreme Court conformations, much like everything else in politics and life, changed over the years. Conformations grew from insignificant and routine appointments to vital and painstakingly prolonged trials, because of the changes in the political parties and institutions. The parties found the
Supreme Court to be a tool for increasing their power, which caused an increased interest in conformations. The change in the Senate to less hierarchical institution played part to the strategy of nomination for the president. The court played the role of power for the parties, through its liberal or conservative decisions. In Judicial Choices, Mark Silverstein explains the changes in the
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Nixon nominated conservative judges to the court like Burger who was easily accepted to the court. His second and third nominations were fought and rejected by Congress partly because of their strong conservative views. By the time of the Reagan-Bush era, nominees needed to have some quality to counteract the fact that they were conservative to receive a conformation for the liberal
Congress. Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor, a woman, and George
Bush nominated Clarence Thomas, a black man, to ease liberal apposition. No longer does the president think who is the best person to be on the court when determining a nomination. It is a combination of political strategies to gain a partisan member to the court and to deter opposition.

     The Senate became less hierarchical making Supreme Court conformations unpredictable and difficult. The Senate of the pre-1960s had a strict set of unwritten rules and pathways to power. The Senate conformed to a single mold where everyone spoke well of the other senators, no one brought attention to him or herself at a national level, everyone specialized in one field, and new senators were like children, who would not speak or be heard. In 1948, Hubert
Humphrey did not maintain these standards when he was elected into the Senate and he was shunned by most senators. By the 1960's, the Senate began to transform into an open forum of debate between all senators.

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