The Supreme Court of the United States of America has, for the last twenty years, been a hotbed for political strife and intrigue. It has also seeped its way into the eyes of the public through media coverage and hotly partisan opinions by both democrats and republicans and their respective clashing ideologies. The way justices are nominated gives a perfect opportunity to be able to analyze the effects that interest groups, and the major political parties have on the confirmation or denial of nominated justices.
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It also shows the attitude that the public has on justices and whether the public agrees or disagrees with a nominee. These nominations even have impact on presidential reelections and the view of congress, specifically senators.
The senate is the final judge of a supreme court nomination. Normally the senate is held by whichever party holds majority in congress and is also the same party as the president, so most senators vote along party lines; however, in recent years nominations have become hotly political and partisan. First and foremost, senators must try to ascertain and resolve uncertainty surrounding how nominees will actually behave on the Court through their views on certain hot button issues in the political climate at any given time (Caldeira, Wright 1998). Nominees are often not transparent on their views of complex and politically charged issues such as affirmative action, or abortion (Caldeira, Wright 1988). Senators often have trouble determining exactly how a nominee’s political affiliations might have on the ideological balance of the court as a whole because of this, senators must anticipate not only the immediate action of a nominee, but their future decisions on the court (Caldeira, Wright 1998). The issue of polarization is one of the many reason’s senators are now very likely to vote along party lines. Hence, if a republican president nominates a justice then most if not all republican senators will confirm while democrats will oppose and vice versa. The result of this power struggle comes in the form of clashing ideologies. Republican and democratic senators both work to defend or oppose a nominee based on their beliefs. The next Democratic president will nominate a liberal to the court in the hope of tilting the courts’ ideology in the other direction as will the next republican president. The question is whether because of this rigid divide by both ideology and party supreme court nominees can sustain public confidence for much longer and in this case, make sure the court stays just. If you look at close cases, 5 to 4 or 5 to 3, going back to the 1950s to illustrate this division, you will see that the percentage of votes cast in the liberal direction by justices who were appointed by Democratic presidents has skyrocketed.
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