Journal Article

The selection of U.S. Supreme Court justices

Norman Dorsen

in International Journal of Constitutional Law

Published on behalf of The New York University School of Law

Volume 4, issue 4, pages 652-663
Published in print October 2006 | ISSN: 1474-2640
Published online October 2006 | e-ISSN: 1474-2659 | DOI:
The selection of U.S. Supreme Court justices

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  • Constitutional and Administrative Law
  • UK Politics


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The selection process for U.S. Supreme Court justices has grown ever more complex. Presidents have the constitutional power to nominate justices, and, in doing so, they have employed several criteria at different times, including professional merit, ideological compatibility, and political support by the president and his advisers. Under the Constitution, the Senate has the authority to consent to or reject appointees. In recent decades it has used public hearings to ascertain a nominee's qualifications and, within certain limitations, the nominee's ideological attitudes. This process is intensely political and, as such, it reflects the Supreme Court's broad authority as the final interpreter of the Constitution, many of whose provisions raise highly contestable issues of great political significance. This article discusses these matters in light of Supreme Court appointments over the past century.

Journal Article.  5300 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; UK Politics

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