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Senate Voting on Supreme Court Nominees: A Neoinstitutional Model

  • Charles M. Cameron (a1), Albert D. Cover (a2) and Jeffrey A. Segal (a2)

Abstract

We develop and test a neoinstitutional model of Senate roll call voting on nominees to the Supreme Court. The statistical model assumes that Senators examine the characteristics of nominees and use their roll call votes to establish an electorally attractive position on the nominees. The model is tested with probit estimates on the 2,054 confirmation votes from Earl Warren to Anthony Kennedy. The model performs remarkably well in predicting the individual votes of Senators to confirm or reject nominees. Senators routinely vote to confirm nominees who are perceived as well qualified and ideologically proximate to Senators' constituents. When nominees are less well qualified and are relatively distant, however, Senators' votes depend to a large degree on the political environment, especially the status of the president.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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