David Strauss

Recent Articles

Whose Confirmation Mess?

Who really politicized the Supreme Court? All it took to end the bloody confirmation battles were a few middle-of-the-road nominees.

WORK DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY: Stephen Carter, The Confirmation Mess: Cleaning Up the Federal Appointments Process (Basic, 1994). Before Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, Reagan reportedly showed an influential Democratic Senator a list of five possible nominees. The senator, pointing to Bork's name, said, "All of them are acceptable except this one." Reagan nominated Bork anyway, and of course the Senate ultimately rejected him. President Clinton may not have circulated a list, but before he nominated Stephen Breyer he conspicuously floated other names, notably Bruce Babbitt's. When Babbitt attracted a degree of opposition from Republicans, however, Clinton turned to Breyer, a Democrat known to be well-liked by Republicans. Stephen Carter, a law professor at Yale, argues in his new book that the Senate confirmation of Supreme Court nominees is a "mess," characterized by distortions and personal attacks that undermine judicial independence. The main culprit, he...