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Empirical Evidence In The Judicial Nomination Debate

Dr. Steven Taylor, of PoliBlog, finds a paper by UMass [Amherst] Professor Sheldon Goldman on the history of the judicial nomination process, The Senate and Judicial Nominations - (Extensions, Spring 2004) - that examines the history of judicial nominations and the confirmation process. The paper presents an unpoliticized history of contentious nominations and Senatorial obstruction.

The second half of the paper is devoted to the development and analysis of an objective measure of obstruction and delay Goldman call the Index of Obstruction and Delay. He uses the index to analyze judicial nominations back to the 95th Congress. In a nutshell, he finds that in periods of divided government (different parties controlling the Presidency and the Senate) the index is high, and in periods of unified government (the same party controlling the Presidency and the Senate) the index is low. Only the unified period marked by the return of control in the Senate to Republicans in 2003 does not conform. The index shows how in this period of unified government the Index of Obstruction and Delay is at historically high levels normally associated with periods of divided government.

It does not bode well for the confirmation process that the indexes for the first session of the 108th Congress were so relatively high. Divided government had previously been associated with high indexes. But if obstruction and delay becomes more common under unified government, that could turn what once was a relatively civilized and functional process into what has increasingly become an unpleasant, prolonged, and dysfunctional process.
Which, of course is exactly where we are today...


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Comments (1)

In the past the unified gov... (Below threshold)

In the past the unified governments were Dem (stating the obvious) and they were not afraid to wield their power and knock down the minority because the backlash that Repubs fear now was not there. They knew that they were the majority and that it was their right to push their agenda -- as they had been elected to do.

The Repubs are new to this unified government thing and are so afraid to lose it that they are missing the reason that they won the majority in the first place -- the voting populace wanted to change the status quo. By doing what is right they will not piss off those who voted for them, only by letting the Dems shut them down will they do that.

It is my hope that Frist will guide the Repubs through a less contentious confirmation of most if not all of the Appellate 10, than being forced to change Senate rules. While showing the Dems as obstructionist and willing to say or do anything to stop the process.

If that doesn't work, the public (except for the Bush haters) will demand that the Dems cooperate, or that invoking the constitutional option is the only option.

Right now Frist is passing out the rope. Let's see what they do with it.






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